We analyzed what Putin aims to achieve, and why President Erdogan of Turkey has so rapidly accepted this proposal. This is obviously, I said, a scheme by Putin to try to save his natural gas business to Europe.
Is this even a real proposal? Nowadays, after becoming so unreliable a supplier of gas to Europe, in fact having weaponized Russian gas deliveries, it is difficult for anyone to take this proposal seriously. Erdogan may have many significant problems; however he and Turkey are not so naieve as to do what Germany and Austria forced the European Union to do, i.e., become overdependent on Russian gas, especially given the deep energy crisis Europe is currently going through.
But, also consider this (as I explained towards the end): This proposal of sending Nord Stream gas, originating in Northern Urengoy province, above the Artic Circle, would also require a big, new pipeline laying project, running at least from perhaps near the Ukrainian border south towards the Black Sea and then onto Turkey. This would have a significant cost. And, by the time this could be finished – in perhaps five or more years – the world will have moved on. By that time, new LNG and natural gas production potential in the USA, Qatar, Australia, Algeria, Norway, Israel (sent to Egypt for liquification) and likely many others’, will have been developed and be on the global market. On this time horizon, there would be plenty of diverse sources of gas fully able to replace Russian export capacities.
I also explained the history of the South Stream Pipeline …
My thanks to Jasmina Kos (Al Jazeera, Balkans) for moderating our panel, and to my friend and colleague Prof. Alan Riley, who joined us via video link from Brussels.
Also my thanks to the 12th Annual 2BS Forum, especially Azra Karastanovi, executive director of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro for the invitation. The Forum was an informative and especially sober event (i.e., more on how the state-crisis of Montenegro’s politically split ruling coalition played out even during the conference sessions in another post, soon.)
As for our panel, we discussed in some detail the reasons for Putin’s energy war against Europe, the likely reasons Russia would sabotage the Nord Stream pipelines, the status of the European struggle to replace Russian gas with other sources – and how bad might the crisis be during this and the next few winters, the question of the role of renewables, the role of conservation of gas and electricity use, and the potential for new-build nuclear power in Europe. Comments, corrections and critiques are most welcomed.
Dr. Thomas O’Donnell is an American energy and geopolitics expert, based for the last decade in Berlin. He has been deeply engaged in analysis and critique of the German-Russian gas partnership and continues to undertake work on geopolitics surrounding global oil markets and OPEC/OPEC+ states.
A nuclear physicist by training, O’Donnell is a proponent of a European nuclear renaissance over the perceived dangerous illusions of “100 percent renewables and no nuclear” policies. He blogs at GlobalBarrel.com and his Twitter handle is @twodtwod.
He spoke to Kyiv Post’s Jason Jay Smart about Russia’s weaponizing of energy supplies, how long that can go on, and the outlook for winters to come in Europe.
What do you make of the bombing of the underwater Nord Stream pipelines?
We must be clear when we talk about the bombing of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines – Europe is being subjected to an energy war by Russia, which is part of the larger Russian war against Ukraine. We see that the battlefield war isn’t going well for Russia, so Russia is betting on its energy policies being able to cause enough economic pain for Europeans to divide Europe, with hopes that Europe will then abandon its solidarity with Ukraine.
1. I’m invited to speak at the “12th 2BS Forum, one of the leading politico-security conferences in Southeast Europe, organized by the Atlantic Council of Montenegro.” So I’ll be in Budva from 6-9 October. Ukrainian President Zelensky will deliver a keynote video speech from Kyiv. My Panel is 8 August 2022, 14.45 – 15.15:
The Climate-Energy Security Nexus, with speakers:
Thomas W. O’DONNELL, Energy & Geopolitical Expert
Alan RILEY, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Professor, City Law School, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council ONLINE SPEAKER TBC
Moderator: Jasmina KOS, Presenter and Reporter, Al Jazeera Balkans
2. I’m also invited to speak at
The 9th Annual Gulf & Arabian Peninsula Studies Forum, for which I will be in Doha, Qatar from 21-24 October. The conference title is: “Implications of the Ukraine crisis and regional and international competition for the future of security and energy in the Gulf region.”
The My topic will be the transformation of the German (and EU) relationship with the GCC states in energy and security matters since the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the parallel Kremlin energy war against Europe.
I plan to post on the content of these conferences and my contributions, and to try to post more of my media interviews – when they may be of use.
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.
Jun 17, 2022 Today, Gazprom announced a further cut in exports of gas via Nord Stream 1 to Germany and on into Europe. Earlier this week, they had cut 40%, now it is 60% of the 55 billion cubic meters per year (bcm) that normally flows in this pipe.
I explained that the Gazprom excuse – -that it could not re-import some compressor parts it had sent to Siemens to repair in Canada due to sanctions — appears as a convenient, manufactured excuse.
I pointed out that a one-off sanctions waiver from the USA, EU and/or Canada for the reimportation of these very specific parts could likely be easily arranged – and if the gas did not again flow fully, Gazprom’s ruse would be clearly exposed.
However, as I said, this is more accurately understood as simply another step in the weaponization of the over-dependence of the European Union (and esp. of Germany, Austria and Italy) on Russian gas imports, a game which Mr. Putin began in earnest in August of 2021.
I told Al Jazeera that Finland is well prepared, having worked since 2017 with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the Baltic states – and with Poland to connect them all together with new pipelines, also to access LNG, storage and soon, new supplies from Norway.
Finland has also rented a regasification ship, from a US firm, to receive 5 billion cubic meters per year of LNG, whch will be plenty to supply both itself and Estonia in the wake of Putin cutting off Gazprom supplies of natural gas. Finland refuses, as did Poland too, to pay Moscow in rubles and so are being punished by Putin.
Kostaka.Media (Kyiv) independent journalists continue informing the Ukranian people on energy affairs. I was interviewed from afar by YAROSLAV MARKIN, TETIANA HUZENKO. We focused on gas issues – would Putin cut Europe’s gas? What have the Americans been organizing, now with the Europeans? How would this affect Europe, Ukraine and Putin’s income?
Below are links to the article in Kostaka’s three languages (EN, RU, UA). I pasted in the English one below, in case you have access problems. This interview had to be written, not audio/video, due to wartime difficulties. [Also, here’s my previous (in-person Kyiv) interview with Kostaka.Media.]
Biden’s Gas Air Lift and the impact on Kremlin revenue: Thomas W. O’Donnell on the russian gas embargo 28 April 2022 — Author YAROSLAV MARKIN, TETIANA HUZENKO Europe is going to cut the consumption of gas by a ⅔ in 2022, that is obviously will affect the Kremlin’s revenue. However, an embargo is highly possible as well. Both the Kremlin and the EU, in response to Russia’s new war crimes in Ukraine, could stop the gas flows. In such a case, LNG supplies are to help weather the crisis of 2022-2023 via Biden Air Lift. The last mentioned is being set up by the US and EU diplomats and is patterned on the Berlin Air Lift of 1949. Berlin Air Lift was a system of food and coal supply during the times when the USSR had been blocking land routes. This would be the end of Russian gas supplies to Europe forever, an international expert and senior energy and geopolitics analyst at GlobalBarrel.com, Dr Thomas W. O’Donnell believes. He told Kosatka.Media how quickly Europe would be able to abandon Russian gas, what alternative supply routes could be used, and whether Hungary and Austria, obsessed with Russian gas, could prevent this.
The analogue of Putin’s army in the energy sector • How much gas does Europe import from Russia per year? Who are the major consumers?
There are two different market processes whereby Russian gas is purchased by Europe. If we speak about only gas delivered by pipeline, these are: І. Via long-term contracts, agreements which are for natural gas to be delivered for several years, perhaps from five to as much as 20 years.
ІІ. Via the “spot” market. These are short-term contracts for gas to be delivered the following month. It is also possible to buy gas day-by-day, where traders agree to a price for gas delivered the next day. Here, gas traders consult the future’s market, which has set the price for gas delivered the next day, or the next month, or some number of months in the future.
Re: Urgente Pedido de Entrevista Periodística – Corresponsales Clarín y La Nación – Argentina
De Maria E… … Fri, Apr 29, 11:50 PM
Dr. O ´Donnell, … Estas son las preguntas para la entrevista del domingo:
1¿Alemania tiene otra posibilidad que no sea seguir comprando el gas ruso? ¿Cuáles serían sus otras opciones?
Repuesta: Antes que nada, muchas gracias por esta oportunidad de hablar con su audiencia argentina.
Pues, debo señalar que hay dos problemas diferentes: el suministro de petróleo ruso a Alemania y Europa y el suministro de gas ruso a Alemania y Europa. Me preguntas por el gas. El gas es mucho más difícil para Europa y para Alemania que el petróleo Hay dos casos: una reducción gradual o parcial de gas o un corte inmediato.
Un corte gradual se puede manejar bastante bien. Ahora Putin está tratando de dividir y conquistar Europa cortando el suministro de gas a Polonia y Bulgaria.
Un recorte inmediato, ya sea por parte de Putin o debido a las sanciones de la UE, crearía una gran crisis energética en Europa. Sin embargo, es importante entender que, al final, Putin está en una posición mucho más débil.
Si Putin corta todos los suministros de gas a Europa, ahora no hay suficiente gas en el mercado mundial para compensar. Pero Occidente, y especialmente EE. UU., la administración Biden, se ha estado preparando para esto al menos dos meses antes de que Putin invadiera Ucrania, incluso antes de que Europa creyera las advertencias de EE. UU. de que Putin atacaría Ucrania.
Note: It is indeed possible for the EU – including Germany too – to immediately cut Russian oil imports to zero and not suffer prolonged high oil prices. How? I will explain in a coming post. This is a topic I have been working on intensively the past couple weeks.
I mention some of my (and others’) rationale for saying this in my answer to the second question from Al Jazeera. NOTE: A very good reference on this is: Christof Rühl speaking last week to bne inelligence. I strongly concur with him. (this note added 15 Mar.)
I had a good live talk with CGTN TV hosts on my analysis of a growing “asymmetry” in energy relations between the EU and Russia.
Especially in natural gas, the EU is increasingly dependent on Russian supplies while Russia is decreasingly dependent on its EU market.
Under Putin, Russia and Gazprom have constantly worked not only to:
Build new pipelines to Europe (principally via the Baltic Sea-to-Germany) so as to detour its exports around Ukraine. This has enabled Putin to committ his present massive aggression there without risking delivery of Gazprom gas to its European markets west of Ukraine. However it has also worked to
Diversify its market for natural gas away from Europe. This includes 10-15-years of projects to build new major pipelines to China and Eurasia and plans for more still (e.g., Power of Siberia 2 pipeline), and to build large-scale LNG export terminals, owned mainly by Russia’s Novatek firm, in its Arctic regions and on Sakhalin Island in the far east. This gas is relatively sanctions-proofed in that it can be delivered by ship to any world market, though it mainly goes to Asia where LNG prices are generally highest.
I explain that this growing asymmetry is precisely why the USA-and-EU have NOT included energy sanctions in their package retaliating for Putin’s present war on Ukraine.
26.01.2022. Experts Wahid Machram, market analyst in Dubai; Samuel Ramadi at Oxford University, UK. and TRT Roundtable host David Foster in London made important points. Here’s a key assessment I made.:
There is a new and growing asymmetry between the European Union and Russia in energy supplies – one increasingly favoring Moscow.
Europe has opened itself to energy blackmail. The present winter 2021-22 gas shortage and skyrocketing prices are only one part. There is also the real possibility of Putin cutting off the pipeline gas he is still supplying in the event that Europe, esp. Germany, opposes any Russian invasion of Ukraine.
About the new EU-Russia growing energy asymmetry:
On the demand side, Germany and Europe generally increasingly need natural gas, and are growing more dependent on Russian supplies, contrary to the promises of rapid progress to a carbon-free future of the German Green Party and others. The EU, and especially Berlin, have adopted ideologically-determind, technologically unrealistic and expensive energy-transition policies, with little concern for energy-supply security. This has made Europe increasingly dependent on Russian gas imports – 40% at present of total gas imports,
Meanwhile, on the supply side, Russia, the major European supplier, is increasingly finding ways to diversify its gas customer base away from Europe, to the Far East, especially to China, and to Eurasia generally. It also has new outlets for its vast Arctic gas resources by converting it to LNG that can go by ship to anywhere in the world.