15 November 2009

Russia Twists Natural Gas Knife in EU's Back

Russia is tightening its stranglehold on Europe's gas supply with new pipelines that bypass the Ukraine. The South Stream gas line will run beneath the Black Sea to Eastern Europe.  A planned northern pipeline will run beneath the Baltic Sea to Scandinavian countries.  Both pipelines will bypass the Ukraine.  They will also likely make it more difficult for the EU nations to get funding for the Nabucco pipeline -- which would have bypassed Russian influence altogether.
South Stream, which is estimated will cost 20 billion euros ($30 billion) to build and is expected to be completed by 2015, would run under the Black Sea to carry natural gas to western Europe.

The European Union has supported the construction of an alternative pipeline, known as Nabucco, in an effort to counter Russian monopolistic influence by importing gas from Caspian Sea nations like Azerbijan and Turkmenistan. That project has been stalled, however, by a lack of supply agreements.

EU leaders have been pushing for more independence from Russian natural gas since a dispute between Moscow and Kiev last January left many European homes without heat in the dead of winter.

About 80 percent of Russian gas currently passes through Ukraine, and Russia has claimed the South Stream line, which bypasses Ukraine, would ensure a smoother supply.

Another Russian project, Nord Stream, would also bypass Ukraine by piping gas to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea. Denmark, Sweden and Finland have all given their approval to the project, meaning construction could start as soon as next year. __DW-World

Most informed observers see the recent Russian invasion and occupation of Georgia as a way of stopping an alternative, non-Russian controlled pipeline from supplying gas to Europe.

Since Russia is apparently willing to go to war to prevent Europe from escaping its natural gas stranglehold, it looks as if Europe had best do whatever Mr. Putin tells her to do. Just close your eyes and think of Europe, dear. And Mr. Putin: do try to be gentle.

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Blogger neil craig said...

I think most informed observers of the Georgian war acknowledge that it was started by Georgia making a genocidal attack on South Ossetia The fact that the Georgian oil pipeline was not bombed during the war can only be because Russia decided not to do so.

It was the Ukrainians who stole western gas from the pipeline. The Russians have been puntilious about their contracts (which is simply good business practice). There is no intrinsic European benefit from the gas bottlenecking through a country with a record of stealing it.

Monday, 16 November, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

In reality, Russia made careful preparations for the Georgian war, many months in advance. It was a well played chess match by Putin, involving Chechen commando pawns and pre-positioned tanks, planes, helicopters, and troops. Engineer the proper provacation, et voila!

Russia now occupies much of Georgia and influences alternative pipeline financing without being forced to outright destroy the pipelines.

For a suicidal, homicidal maniac, Putin's Russia is putting on a marvelous front.

Unfortunately, Russia cannot develop or maintain its own oil and gas fields and is losing production. Russia desperately needs the outsiders that it is alienating by its death throes.

But outside companies cannot get insurance against Russian nationalisation of their work inside Russia.

Realism dictates abandoning Russia to its own folly.

Monday, 16 November, 2009  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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