My TVP, Warsaw: Assessing Energy Supplies in the EU’s Energy Crisis vs Russia.

This video is the portion of the TVP show (Warsaw, Poland, in English) with my interview on 09sep22.

We discussedthe present energy crisis in Europe vs. Putin’s Russia – as an additional front parallel to the hot war inside Ukraine.

I gave my views on the causes for Europe’s predicament: this includes over-dependence on Russian energy – long insisted upon by especially Germany and Austria – to over-dependence on variable wind energy without having any significant amout of grid-scale storage installed.

Also, on the necessity of nuclear as a zero-carbon base load generation capaciy, and the most useful applications for larger, Generation 3+ nuclear plants as versus smaller SMRs (small modular reactors). I aso commented on the Polish national energy transistion plan, wich seems much moe flexib .

[Note: TVP is the Polish state-media corporation TV channel. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telewizja_Polska

As the Wiki indicates, TVP is criticized for being partisan pro-government. In my interview, on this topic, this was not the case. I also often go onto German state-media TV, Deutsche Welle (DW), subject to my similar observations when I’ve been on that station. ]

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My Al Jazeera: I was asked to assess Pres. Von der Leyen’s proposals on the energy crisis | Sharing hardships fairly is the key to unity.

Just as President Von der Leyen finished her speech, I was asked for an analysis of her proposals to cope with the energy crisis – which Member States’ will meet to approve or reject on 30 September.

EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen presented the commission’s plan to address the growing energy crisis before and during the coming winter. Now there will be two weeks of discussions among Member states until their energy ministers gather on 30 September to decide which to endorse.
There will undoubtedly be no price caps on Russian or other natural gas.
There will be liquidity for those energy companies struggling to purchase high-priced gas.
There are measures to decouple the effects, at least, of the coupling of the electricity prices to high natural gas prices in the wake of Putin’s regime cutting its pipeline flows to Europe. The idea here, as I explained, is a sort of “windfall profits taxes” on low-cost energy producers, such as renewables and nuclear, to capture their rents and redistribute them to those citizens and firms struggling to pay energy bills during the crisis.
I explain that this is a wholly appropriate measure during wartime, which is what this is – an economic and energy war vs. Russia to support the Ukrainian people’s fight against Russian aggression.
I was asked, again, as on other networks recently, whether the EU is “divided” on these measures.
I explained how there are absolutely no proposals that the EU (or USA) back down on its sanctions program vs. Russia and esp. vs. Russian energy.
I explained how, despite Orban of Hungary and some similar examples, these have been pretty well handled by the majority of Member states and the Commission and in fact the sanctions and emergency measures have gone forward.
I noted that in two or so years, Russia will be relegated to a second-level energy exporter, and the EU will certainly be able to be independent of Putin’s regime in the energy sector.

Al Jazeera’s video on my view: “What does Russia’s gas cut mean for Europe?”

My thanks to Al Jazeera’s Katya Bohdan, producer, and the digital team in Doha (English) for this well done “documentary” featuring my point of view on: “What does Russia’s gaas cur mean for Europe?” I think it is self-explanatory (and its short). Watch it below or directly at the AJ link here. Tom OD.

I’m cited The New York Times | Putin is wielding his gas weapon vs the EU while he still has it. The energy war will be fierce.

Last Wednesday, the NYT quoted my view in, “Europe says Putin’s Gas War is Weakening” (print ed’n, p.1; 7 Sept 2022). I was interviewed by Erika Solomon, in Berlin. It’s a short quote; I explain it further, below the article here: (Or, go directly to the NYT.)

One point I stressed in this and other interviews last week is the short- vs. long-term prospects of the EU-Russian energy war.

Putin’s is now exploiting the EU’s long overdepedence on Russian exports – a dependence actively built up by serial German and Austrian governments against ever-fiercer opposition from successive USA administrations,”Three Seas Region” EU Member states, Ukraine and others. (More on the difficult German policy adjustments being developed now in a future post.)

Short term Putin can and will cause maximum energy and economic crises in the EU by cutting off gas supplies via pipelines from NW Siberia. However, longer term, things are very different.

The EU has already begun increasing its LNG and pipeline imports from other regions, especially the USA, Norway, Qatar, Algeria, Azerbaijan, soon Israel via Egyptian LNG, and etc. Short term this will be a very heavy burden and a fierce test of EU Members solidaarity with Ukraine. Long term, there is plenty of gas in the non-Russian & transatlantic allies’ world, plenty of finance, technology and functioning markets.

Over the remainder of this year and the next one-or-two years, Russia will lose demand for its lucrative pre-war gas business in Europe, a crushing loss to the Russian nation. This will end up depriving Moscow of significant income.

However, this and perhaps a few more winters in Europe promise to be very difficult, with the next two likely the worst energy crises in Europe since WWII.

My Asharq: Russia’s War is driving MENA shortages, inflation & unrest | How Moscow uses “denazification”+”food aid” lies. What can MENA states do?

Published Aug 22, 2022 – Dr. Tom O’Donnell, GlobalBarrel.com

A more detailed blog post is below. } Above is the English Audio. Below is Arabic video.
My Asharq interview, 21 AUg 2022, with a Jordanian economic expert. Our host is in Doha; I am in Berlin.

In our Asharq interview on 21 August, a Jordanian expert and I discussed Middle East and North African (MENA) states’ food shortages, inflation, and the risk of recession and political unrest as a consequence of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

I especially commented on the troubled domestic policy responses in Egypt (and also in Turkey, which is not a “MENA” state; but deeply involved in Libya, Syria, and etc.).

Beyond the region’s domestic monetary and social policies, I stressed that in external policy, the region should collectively condemn Russia for its Ukrainian war, holding Moscow responsible for driving these crises in MENA. (Unfortunately, there was no time for me to elaborate on this latter point. Hence, I will write more in it, further below here.)

I was also asked to compare the present situation to that which led to the Arab Spring uprisings of 2010-11. (During that period, I taught a post-graduate seminar at The New School, NYC, and spoke at public events on the uprisings). Many of the same precursors exist now as then; however, at what point might this lead to protests or uprisings is not possible to say.

The further reality is that any successes by the EU and other developed states in acquiring scarce food, minerals and energy equates to more difficulty for developing states – especially Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa and poorer states of the MENA Region – to acquire these necessities.

We both noted, however, that, at the same time, the oil-exporting and LNG-producing states of MENA are now enjoying a revenue windfall, and it is of course their responsibility along with the developed world to aid their poorer neighbors during this crisis.

Note too, that the OPEC states of MENA have reportedly earned a windfall of $1.3 trillion so far this year from high oil and gas prices.

Given the global competition for expensive and temporarily scarce food and energy commodities, poorer MENA states have little recourse. Lebanon, in particular, is in dire circumstances – much of which is the responsibility of corrupt internal political elites and Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

The IMF of course is playing a crucial role now in assisting MENA states.

(I note that the USA this week, according to the UN, purchased 150,000 metric tons of grain from Ukraine to distribute to developing states.)

Meanwhile, Russia is continuing to steal and/or destroy large quantities of Ukrainian grain which would otherwise be exported to MENA states.

My first answer in the interview was rather generic; about the World Bank’s recent report on the Region,

Turkey

Later, elaborating on the attempt of the region’s central banks to fight inflation with higher interest rates, and the risks of recession this is unavoidably causing, I emphasized that Turkey, at the direction of President Erdogan, is following a highly unorthodox policy (read: monetarily incorrect, and rather corrupt) of lowering interest rates to address inflation. This counter-intuitive decision is known to be a pet theory of the Turkish president. I explained how this dangerous policy caused a spurt of inflation during the latter part of 2021, the first time the central bank implemented lower rates to “fight inflation.” It was widely assumed that would be the end of this experiment. Nevertheless, the Turkish central bank once again cut rates earlier this week. And, again, Turkish lira inflation has begun to soar. This is clearly unsustainable.

I pointed out this policy is exacerbating the crisis for Turkish business and for the Turkish people who are increasingly unable to afford food and other necessities when they are actually available. Further, the central bank is running out of foreign exchange to support the lira.

Egypt

So too, I discussed the crisis in Egypt, the most populous MENA Arab state. 80% of its flour imports, as I understand (FT), are normally imported from Ukraine and Russia, explaining why the Egyptian wheat crisis is particularly severe. Its central bank head resigned just this week, reflecting the depth of its financial and monetary crisis.

Russia’s contradictory propaganda, and MENA’s response

One point I very much wanted to elaborate, but lacked the time, was the rediculous situation where, in many developing states there are significant sections of the political and business elites who believe – or decided to ‘believe’ – that Moscow”s claim it is fighing in Ukraine to defeat “nazis” and to “preempt” supposed Ukranian and/or NATO plans to atttack Russia. In tandem with this false propaganda, Putin, Lavrov and other Russian leaders are actively offering to aid them with wheat and other aid.

This is all rather absurd in that it is Russia which is exacerbating the global post-COVID food and commodities shortages and high prices by its war, and especially by its systematic stealing and/or destruction of Ukrainian grain. It is the mark of corruption that various business and political elites of developing states are willing to pretend, along with the Putin regime, that Russia is a poor victim of Ukraine and that NATO and the USA had supposedly been positioning themselves for launching future aggression against Russia.

However, what brings this Russian narrative to the level of absurdity is that these same elites in various developing states (along with Hungary’s Victor Orban and some others inside the EU) further accept Russian claims that it is the savior of the Ukraine war’s attendant food and commodities crises. At minimum, what I can say is that this is certainly quite consistent with the tradition of the “Big Lie” pioneered by the Hitler regime in Berlin in the 1930-40’s. In fact, one should not underestimate how this narrative has found resonance among naive and also especially those who – often quite legitimately – feel lingering indignation at historical mistreatment or hypocritical policies of the USA and European powers. This indignation is being manipulated and cynically appropriated both by the Russian leadership and allied local business and political elites in various developing states, including the MENA region. This dangerous fake news (no quotation marks on this expression in this case) must be more actively combated with patient explanations and impactful refutations.

My DW: On OPEC+ decision & the EU’s Russian-gas price cap || AL JAZEERA: I debated Moscow expert on Putin’s try to divide EU on gas. Gemany will never trust Russian energy again; & it is rearming.

Dear readers: I have so many interviews on the present energy-and-war crisis that I cannot post them all here. Here are two recent ones.

My interview with Deutsche Welle (Berlin) host Daniel Winters on i) OPEC+ decision to only up production 100k barrels. & Could an EU price cap on Russian natural gas & other gas help with supplies, with costs to citizens and businesses?
Here is the English Audio for Al Jazeera video BELOW.
On Sunday night, (Al Jazeera) I refuted a Moscow expert who said Russia’s leadership (i.e., Putin) is planning to divide EU over natural gas, saying the EU was never united. The English response audio is above the YouTube video, which is in Arabic.

Some comments on the DW interveiw above:

I spoke with DW.de Business show host Daniel Winter about the OPEC decision today, which some decried, and the EU plans to put a price cap on natural gaas – Russian and otherwise. You might find my take on the OPEC decision surprising?

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On Al Jazeera with expert in Moscow | Putin wants a “compromise” for gas. Like what, Donbas? Odessa?- In my view, EU citizens will choose the cold … & their dignity.

English audio above. — Arabic video below

My fellow expert-guest, in Moscow, Dr. Stanislav Mitrakhovich, was notably frank.

He did not insist, as have various Russian Federation officials lately, that Nord Stream 1 gas flow has been cut for technical reasons to do with the lack of a Siemens compressor.

The compressor in question was sent to Canada for repairs, but its return has been waived from sanctions restrictions. As Chancellor Scholz rightly said, the lack of a compressor is clearly not what cutting gas to Europe is about. It is political.

Nor did the expert in Moscow claim it was due to bureaucratic German-Russian difficulties with paperwork, as Putin and others have claimed..

He instead pointed out that the EU has said it will stop by year’s end the import of Russian oil, and Germany has said it will not use Russian gas in two years, and, without this and some sort of “political compromise,” gas could undoubtedly be fully flowing again from Russian into the EU.

So, I asked – rhetorically – just what possible sort of “compromise” might Putin be angling for? The Donbas for gas? Odessa for gas?

I asserted my opinion that “Europeans have their sense of dignity” and would never agree to such a “compromise.” Put that way, they will prefer to be cold this winter and to have industries and businesses have to shut for lack of gas.

We also discussed a few details of what sort of suffering – rationing of energy, low temperature heating and closing of businesses – Germany and the EU can expect to have to endure this winter.

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My Al Jazeera: Russia cuts Latvian gas; but Baltics & Poland prepared, with LNG facilities. German leadership ridiculed them. | Putin is using energy blackmail to fight sanctions imposed on Russia for his Ukraine war.

English trac above. Arabic video below.

Al Jazeera asked me how will the cut in gas to Latvia effect that country and other Baltic states?

I said they are much better prepared than Germany, for example. The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Poland, had no illusions about Putin’s Russia eventually weaponizing the EU’s dependence on Russian gas as it is now during the Ukraine war.  

Lithuania has a gas import floating terminal and also supplies non-Russian imports to its neighbors, including Poland.  Poland also has an LNG import terminal, and is now completing a new non-RUssian-gas pipeline form Norway to Poland.

They are in a much better place, prepared much better than Germany in the event of a complete cut off of Russian imports.

Al Jazeera also asked about the cut in Nord Stream 1 supplies to (and through) Germany to only 20%.  I said this will have a heavy effect on Germany and other EU states this winter. Germany will not be able now to fill storage for winter.  

We discussed other aspects of this in the brief, 4.5 minute interview on the nightly news show.

My DW TV: Why Putin cuts EU gas bit-by-bit? Can Germany handle it? Wind’s low, so we’re buring gas! | Many EU states warned Berlin: “Don’t open our door to Putin’s Trojan horse!”

It’s always great to talk with Deutschewelle’s Rob Watson on “DW Business.” We spoke at midday 26 Jul 2022 on the new NS1 . gas pipeline cut in flows to only 20% by Putin’s regime.

The title tells most of it. I explain why I think Putin is playing with gas, not oil and the EU and German vulnerabilities.

Now, German storage will not be able to be filled to the ministry’s target level of 95% by November, according to the Federal Transmission System chief, Mr. Klaus Muller – in fact, even if NS1 were still flowing at 40%.

Not only that, although Energy Minister Habeck has agreed to bring back online all the coal power plants possible, in fact Germany has a poorly thought-out over dependence on wind and it simply is not blowing much this summer. So, in actuality, we are burning more gas now to produce electricity than last year – a complete waste of gas. Also, the Rhine is low and coal barges are having difficulty delivering coal to power plants.

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Putin cuts Nord Stream1 to 20%. Gas is Moscow’s key economic lever: Exports earn much less than oil & EU needs two-to-four years to replace it | USA-EU should hit Russian oil harder

ENGLISH Audio ABOVE }} ARABIC Video BELOS

We discuss the excuses Putin is giving for cutting Nord Stream 1 flows now from 40% to only 20%. I asserted that they are nonsense. (Various links are below, under Read More.)

This pipeline has been in service since 2011 and there has never been a cut back of flow due to a defective or poorly maintained compressor, and now Russia is claiming a second one is in disrepair. Putin, in Tehran, last week warned he would do this and also said that Ukraine refusing to transit Russian gas through territory Russia has forcibly occupied is another reason he might cut Nord Stream 1 flows. So, this is clearly political, not technical.

This will mean, according to comments recently by Klaus Mueller – head of the German Federal Gas Transit Agency, that it will be impossible to fill German storage to the 95% level the minister has ordered — Mueller had said this was the case even at the former 40% flows of NS1.

I explained the reason Putin is playing this game with gas deliveries – because natural gas brings his regime far less revenues than the all-important business of Russian oil exports, while at the same time natural gas is much harder now for Europe to replace for some years hence from other sources – as it arrives mostly via pipelines from Russia, not by sea like most oil. So, gas is Putin’s greatest lever for now in the energy front of the economic war being waged in support of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

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Roundtable Invite/Einladung: Threat of Russia-Gulf States oil price war for Asian market? Berlin, Bundestag Press House, 28 July. [Deutsch/English event]

Dear Colleagues & Friends,

I will be speaking at this roundtable here in Berlin on Thursday with two eminent German oil market experts. [See PDF invite, below].

What is happening in oil markets bewteen Russia and esp. Saudi Arabia, competing for the Chiese and larger Asian market? This is a key issue in the effectiveness of EU & USA sanctions against Russia’s oil exports, aimed at limiting the Putin regime’s capacity to war agaisnt Ukraine.

You are cordially invited to this live-only event in Berlin. Our roundtable includes:

  • Dr. Birgit WETZEL – Wirtschaftsjournalistin mit Schwerpunkten Energie und postsowjetische Staaten
  • Mathias BRÜGGMANN – International Correspondent im “Handelsblatt”
  • Dr. Thomas W. O’DONNELL – Wissenschaftler an der Freien Universität Berlin, Experte für globale Energiesysteme, erneuerbare Energien und die Transformation fossiler Brennstoffe
  • Moderation: Ewald KÖNIG, Journalist

Please register ASAP at : events@ggd-berlin.org as room is limited. Sponsored by the Berlin-Gulf Dialogue for Energy Dialogue e.V.

Best, Dr. Tom O’Donnell

My Euronews: Nord Stream1 back on. Putin knows EU will be free of Russian gas in couple years; he’ll weaponize it while he still can. Killing EU-Ukraine solidarity is the target.

Euronews Now host, Mariam Zaidi, interviews me Thursday AM, 21 July, about the meaning of Nord Stream 1 coming back online (albeit by a mere 40%), and why the EU has to prepare for a complet cutoff of Russian natural gas this winter.

In two or so years, the EU will be completly free of dependence on Putin’s gas; and he knows it. So, Putin has two years to use it – as a weapon – or lose it. We have to be ready. Filling storage is not sufficient. There would be gas rationing and cutoffs.

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Is a lack of oil refineries boosting global fuel prices? Al Jazeera asked us, in Houston & Berlin

From: Inside Story, 20 July 2020 – The Saudi Arabian foreign minister, in Tokyo, said the problem with high prices at the pump is a lack of global capacity to refine crude. Out panal included::

  • Bob Cavnar – Energy and oil industry analyst – Houston
  • Thomas O’Donnell – Energy and geopolitical analyst – Berlin
  • Josh Young – Chief investment officer at Bison Interests – Houston

Presenter: Nastasya Tay of Al Jazeera – Doha

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Al Jazeera asks: What if Gazprom cuts Nord Stream1? EU strategy rests on solidarity. | As Putin’s EU gas trade dies, he can weaponize it once or twice more.

English audio track is above. – Arabic video is below here.

19 July 2020. I was interviewed by Al Jazeera (Arabic here; English audio is at GlobalBarrel[dot]com) about the strong possibility that Gazprom might not turn Nord Stream 1 back on this Thursday, or might soon thereafter cut its flows to Germany and Europe.

This would mean a severe EU gas crisis this winter.

We discussed what the EU plans to do to prepare? The key will be solidarity in sharing sparce gas between Member states and, within Member states it will depend on rationins and conservation, including closing of less-critical businesses when necessary. How effective will these measures be?

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Al Jazeera: Former Russian Foreign Minster A. Fedorov & I are interviewed: A Putin Gas War vs EU? | Me: This would be another huge Putin tactical blunder. EU citizens will not be intimidated, will unite, blaming Putin.

English Audio track above | Arabic Video below

I was interviewed, 11 July, together with former-Foreign Minister of Russia, Andrey A. Fedorov, about the possibility of Moscow cutting off gas supplies to Germany and the EU via Nord Stream 1 after 21 July, when the scheduled maintaince of this large pipeline from Russia to Germany and the EU ends.

Many leaders in Brussels and in Member states have warned of this possibility in recent days.

Issues included:

– Whether and how Putin is weaponizing gas exports? – What will be the effect of a Nord Stream 1 gas cutoff?

– What are EU plans?

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