I sent this today to European and American contacts – apologies for duplications.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I read with interest the declaration: “In spite of it all, America: A Trans-Atlantic Manifesto in Times of Donald Trump – A German Perspective,
” signed by a number of leading German foreign policy experts today in Die Zeit
and translated in the NYTimes
Point 10 is of particular interest and much welcomed as – at long last – a frank characterization in Germany of the Nord Stream 2 project for what it plainly is: “a geopolitical project:” Quoting:
10. Energy security policy — giving up Nord Stream 2 is in Germany’s interest
There is one more policy area in which the German government should reconsider its position to open the door for productive cooperation: energy security policy. The United States has identified Nord Stream 2, the planned pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to Russia, as a geostrategic project. They are correct. More important: This pipeline project is not in the joint European interest. Nord Stream 2 contradicts a policy of greater energy independence and undermines the envisaged European Energy Union. We should try to identify a joint approach with our European partners and the United States. (emphasis added – T.O’D.)
Further along in the spirit of Trans-Atlanticism, which this manifesto embodies, I should point out that the recent US sanctions bill (enacted by Congress in retaliation for Russian interference in US elections, and to codify into law Obama’s presidential sanctions orders stemming from Russia’s East Ukraine and Crimean interventions, so that Donald Trump cannot easily reverse these) … involved Congress meeting with EU and German diplomats and re-drafting the initial bill so as to take into explicit consideration European concerns.
These concerns were that US sanctions should not unfairly disadvantage European firms over US firms, and should not be imposed on EU firms in a “unilateral” manner, without close consultations with European allies as were carried out by the Obama administration.
In fact, the final version of this bill explicitly requires the Trump Administration to decide to impose any new sanctions on participants in European pipelines or energy projects such as Nord Stream 2 only in “coordination” with the European Union.
The fact that the final drafting of this bill – which Trump was constrained to sign because it was ‘veto proof’ – involved US-EU active cooperation “without and against” President Trump is a significant step in defense of Trans-Atlanticism and in defiance of Trump’s anti-European “America First” policy and of his vision of US “energy independence
” as jingoistic “US energy dominance.”
Today’s manifesto by influential German foreign affairs figures advocating further engagement with the USA in spite of (and de facto against) Trump, is a further positive step in this direction.
I should note that the Trump administration has missed the new sanctions bill’s mandated deadline to report to Congress on these issues. Meanwhile, I am told (some two weeks ago) by reliable sources that “all work has been frozen” by Gazprom’s European-partner firms involved in the NS2 project, awaiting clarity from the White House on what any new sanctions will be and then to understand the longterm impact on their participations.
Dr. Thomas W. O’Donnell || Energy & International Affairs
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, EU gas, Euroepen Union, Gazprom, geopolitics, Germany, international relations, Nord Stream, Poland, Putin, Russia, Sanctions, The USA, Uncategorized, US Foreign Policy
The US Senate’s decision to expand sanctions against Russia triggered indignation in Berlin, throwing Germany’s geopolitical ambitions over the Nord Stream 2 project into sharp relief. Read below or get the App. My other articles at Berlin Policy Journal
“Neue Neue Ostpolitik”
Berlin – July 21, 2017 By: Thomas O’Donnell — On June 15, the US Senate approved an act to sharply expand sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for its intervention in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The broadly bi-partisan move that enshrined Barack Obama’s earlier executive orders – intended as a response to Moscow’s alleged cyber interference in US elections – was a stunning rebuke to US President Donald Trump’s Russia policy, essentially taking a broad swath of foreign policy out of his hands. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, EU gas, Euroepen Union, Gazprom, geopolitics, Germany, international relations, LNG, Nord Stream, Resource conflicts, Russia, Sanctions, The USA, Trump, Ukraine, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, European Union, gas, Gazprom, Germany, Nord Stream, pipeline, Putin, Sigmar Gabriel
Credit: CNNMoney, 9 August 2016
Mr. Trump promises he’d use the USA’s shale-oil revolution to deliver “complete” independence from foreign oil, telling voters in May: “Imagine a world in which our foes and the oil cartels (sic) can no longer use energy as a weapon. Wouldn’t that be nice?” But, he is confusing two quite distinct things:
“Energy independence” – in the sense of the USA producing more oil than the country consumes – is indeed possible, even “tantalizingly close” as this CNNMoney article (Aug. 9, 2016, by Matt Egan) makes clear, citing myself and other experts. For clarity, I’ll call this “net oil-exporter status.”
However, Donald Trump asks us to “imagine” he can use this net oil exporter status, to make the US independent of the global oil market and oil in geopolitics where our “foes” and “cartels” have leverage. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Gas globalization, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, international relations, Iran sanctions, Iraq, Iraqi oil, Libya, oil, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Resource conflicts, Russia, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, shale gas, shale oil, The USA, U.S. oil, Ukraine, Uncategorized
Tagged Ali Al-Naimi, Energy, geopolitics, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, natural gas, Obama, oil sector, OPEC, Persian Gulf, United States
To put Iran’s recent production increases in perspective: On its own, for 37 years, Iran has struggled to produce two-thirds of its pre-revolutionary level of 6 million barrels/day. Now, domestic opposition is again limiting foreign oil companies’ participation to boost production.
Since the Obama-administration’s and Europe’s nuclear sanctions were lifted early this year (marked ‘e’ on the chart), Iran has been expanding its production and exports more rapidly than most experts had expected. Tehran has actually tripled exports since late-2015 (see point ‘f’). But, here’s the big question: Can Iran sustain this years’ production gains?
If to, this could seriously undermine Saudi Arabia’s global oil-market share, and boost Iran’s sanctions-damaged economy to a long-awaited recovery.
The short answer: Now that foreign sanctions are finally lifted, the battle to boost Iran’s oil exports has shifted to a domestic clash over whether to allow foreign oil companies to have significant upstream involvement. This is a domestic Iranian issue with a long history.
Let’s start with some historical perspective: The Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC) can only do so much on its own to boost production. After decades of sanctions, it lacks the needed technology and finance. I told CNNMoney
‘s Matt Egan, on Wednesday, that the faster Iran expands on its own,
the faster production will plateau. (His CNNMoney article
today quotes me .).
This was what happened after the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.(‘b’ on the chart). By about 1992, production had plateaued at almost 4 million barrels/day, under 2/3 of the pre-revolutionary, late-1970’s level of roughly 6 million barrels per day. (‘a’ on chart). The Iranian president at the time, Rafsanjani, argued to religious conservative and nationalist members of the Majilis that only foreign oil companies’ technology and investments could expand production further. However, he only won grudging approval for an offshore project due to fears that foreigners would bring their irreligious ways ashore and/or undermine the hard-won nationalization of Iran’s oil sector.
Posted in Chavez, Chavez lagacy, Chavez legacy, Energy and Geopolitics, Faja of the Orinoco, Global Oil Market, heavy oil, Iran, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Obama, oil, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, shale oil, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil
Tagged geopolitics, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Iran, Obama, OPEC, Saudi Arabia, United States, Venezuela
Russian Production & Stakes in Venezuelan Oil Projects (40% stake is limit)
Last October & November I succeeded in interviewing several people in the Venezuelan private sector directly knowledgeable of Russian oil projects with PDVSA. Many Venezuelans wonder what all the Russians-known for their secrecy-are up to there. Some of my key findings are in Americas Quarterly‘s Winter 2016 edition. Read on …
Russia Is Beating China to Venezuela’s Oil Fields – By THOMAS W. O’DONNELL
The profits, politics and luck behind Russia’s growing footprint.
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, had long envisioned China becoming Venezuela’s biggest oil-sector production partner. So when Rafael Ramírez, then president of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), announced in January 2013 that Russia would produce enough oil with PDVSA by 2021 to become “the biggest petroleum partner of our country,” very few people believed him. It sounded like empty hype.
Yet it turns out that Ramírez was serious. Three years later, Russian companies are already producing more oil in joint projects with PDVSA than their Chinese counterparts. Official figures are either unreliable or unavailable, but according to field data provided by Global Business Consultants (GBC), a Caracas-based energy consulting firm, Russia-Venezuela production as of late 2015 was 209,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared to China-Venezuela’s at a bit over 171,000 bpd.
Posted in Chavez, Chavez lagacy, China, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Faja of the Orinoco, Global Oil Market, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, PDVSA, PDVSA weakness, Putin, Rosneft, Russia, Sanctions, Sechin, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil, Zulia
Tagged China, geopolitics, Hugo Chávez, oil sector, PDVSA, Petróleos de Venezuela, Venezuela
Here’s my latest at Berlin Policy Journal (DGAP): With Nord Stream 2, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is nearing his goal of cutting Ukraine out of the gas supply picture. October 20, 2015
On 18 June, during the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an agreement was signed to build a controversial new “Nord Stream 2” pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would go directly from Russia to northern Germany, with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm). The project, which consists of two segments that would run along the same route as the existing two segments of the 55 bcm Nord Stream line, completed in 2011, has met with strong opposition from energy officials in Brussels, as well as leaders in Ukraine and some other EU states.
Indeed, the agreement between Russia’s Gazprom and a consortium of German, Austrian, French,, and Anglo-Dutch companies came as a surprise. After all, in January 2015 Gazprom announced it had abandoned the project, blaming both the falling price of gas over the previous year and anti-monopoly restrictions in the EU’s Third Energy Package, which prohibit suppliers of gas from also owning pipelines delivering it. This provision has prevented Gazprom from ever filling the original North Stream more than half way. In retrospect, the sudden signing of a Nord Stream 2 agreement only six months after the project was supposedly abandoned, plus the fact that the consortium foresees a quick start reveals the prior cancellation to have been a political ruse. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Euroepen Union, France, Germany, international relations, LNG, Putin, Resource conflicts, Russia, Sanctions, shale gas, The USA, Trade and Commerce, Ukraine
Tagged Berlin, Brussels, Business and Economy, Energy, European Union, geopolitics, Germany, natural gas, Putin, United States, USA
Merkel and Obama answer questions. 6 June 2014 [Denver Post]
During April and May, I interviewed over a dozen Washington-based experts in European energy and geopolitics. My report on these interviews–along with some policy proposals in light of Brussels’ “institutional incapacities” and the “fundamental contradictions” of German leadership–is here: [PDF with a Table of Contents for navigation]
or at the AICGS website
This work was conducted as a resident fellow of the AICGS (American Institute of Contemporary German Studies) in Washington, DC and supported by a generous grant from the German Academic Exchange Office (DAAD) with additional support from the Foreign Office. My thanks to the AICGS for their collegial support and warm hospitality.
Next, the plan is to interview in Berlin and perhaps Brussels energy experts and officials for their viewpoints on European energy vulnerabilities and on their work with the U.S. side.
Posted in AICGS, Alternative energy, Energiewende, Energy and Environment, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Euroepen Union, Germany, Global Oil system, international relations, Putin, Resource conflicts, Russia, Sanctions, The USA
Tagged Berlin, Energy, Europe, European Union, geopolitics, Germany, natural gas, United States, Washington