The abstract is below. However, first, I must say how impressed I was by the respect and support attendees extended to the Ukrainian ambassador,, Mr. Kuzmenko Andrii, who was in attendance, as were other Ukrainian diplomats (photo below)
I was also impressed by the solidarity expressed by the great majority of academic and business participants, mostly from the Gulf and larger MENA Region, for the people of Ukraine in fighting Russian aggression. Many heartfelt analogies were made to Gulf and MENA-Region nations’ who have suffered invasions, especially citing Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Lucia Scripcari Analyst on Moldovan Domestic and Foreign Policy
Thomas O’Donnell Energy and Geopolitics Analyst, and academic, in Berlin.
The energy security of Moldova, a small, pro-EU state boarding Romania, is precarious and under various and comlpex threats from Russia. This includes direct threats to its gas supplies, which overwhelmingly come from Gazprom.
Meanwhile, Moldova’s 70% of its electricity comes from its region of Transnistria, which is illegally occupied by Russia, and this electricity is produced by gas imported across Moldova by Gazprom.
The remaining 30% of its electricity comes from Ukraine, where recent Russian missile strikes have hit power plants and apparently forced a cut off the Ukrainian electricity supplies to Moldova on the day before we recorded this show.
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 …
The title above says much more succinctly what I was hoping to get into in this interview. Below are the beginning of an article I was writing for this blog post. However, a USA organization is interested in using it for an Op-Ed. So, only the initial part is below. I hope to post on this fully very soon (i.e., a published article). – Tom O’D.
In my view, the Biden Administration has unwisely gotten into an exaggerated public clash with the Saudis and OPEC/OPEC+ over their 2 mbd quota cut.
The key here is the need for more investment rapidly into both the OPEC states (which have plenty of oil reserves that can be developed) and into USA shale resources (that are also abundant and need to be more rapidly expanded).
The looming global recession discourages investors in both instances, of course. And, the Biden administration has reason to worry, both if a global recession soon begins, slashing oil demand, and especially if it doesn’t (but, it will).
I agree with Ed Morse (video interview on CNN here), veteran oil-market analyst, head of Citibank’s Global Commodities: Regardless of the OPEC quota cut, given the strong trend towards a global recession, which is proceeding relatively slower in the USA than elsewhere, it’s likely oil prices will be “in the $70’s at the end of the year.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
On Friday, 8 October, I was interviewed, with Aura Sabadus (@ASabadus) of ICIS-London, about Nord Stream 2’s impact on European energy politics on”Strait Talk” with TRT host Ayse Suberker. We discussed the geopolitical aims of Russian and German leaders for partnering on this pipeline.
I stressed, the issue is not whether Europe is dependent on Russian gas – it is and it will remain so for the foreseeable future for up to 40% of its imports. The issue is what route this gas takes to arrive from Russia into Europe.
Consider: Russia historically exported 80% of the gas it sends to Europe using massive Soviet-era pipelines transiting Ukraine, the remainder via a Belarus-Poland-Germany pipeline. However, for 20 years Continue reading →
EU leaders will discuss the idea of creating a strategic EU gas reserve and decoupling electricity prices from gas prices, said the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
– When it comes to gas, we are dependent on imports – 90 percent. gas is imported. The economies in the world are growing, so is the demand. But the supply is not correspondingly greater. We are very grateful that Norway is increasing production, but it seems that this is not the case in Russia, noted the head of the European Commission, visiting Estonia. In her opinion, the solution to the problem are investments in renewable energy sources, which should make the Community independent of imports and stabilize prices.
– In the short term, we will talk at the European Council, not only this evening (Tuesday), but in two weeks’ time at the formal Council of Europe, how to deal with storage, the strategic reserve and we will look at the overall price structure on the electricity market. Electricity prices are high due to high gas prices and we have to consider the possibility of (them) decoupling because we have much cheaper energy from renewable sources, said von der Leyen
On Tuesday evening, an informal meeting of European leaders will take place in Slovenia ahead of the EU-Western Balkans summit scheduled for Wednesday.
According to unofficial diplomatic sources in Brussels, Poland wants the European Commission to conduct investigations into the manipulation of the natural gas market by the Russian company Gazprom, which are causing the increase in gas prices in the EU. This issue is expected to appear at the EU summit on October 21-22.
Back in April, American energy market analyst Thomas O’Donnell predicted that Russia would use gas supplies to build strategic domination. The EU’s response should be to create a kind of gas ‘central bank’ in Ukrainian warehouses and use this country as a buffer, he proposed.
Ukraine is a key element of the strategic gas reserve
– Shortly after the beginning of the Maidan revolution and the Russian aggression, Ukraine, with the support of the EU, quickly made technical modifications to the export pipelines to Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania in such a way as to enable a reverse. This quickly freed Kiev from having no alternative to buying Russian gas, said the expert.
– Moreover, the Kremlin cannot so easily promote favorable oligarchs – he envisaged adding that the implementation of this idea was only a matter of legislation.
– The EU could designate warehouses in Ukraine, Germany and France as the so-called strategic reserves that must always hold a certain minimum amount of gas. In the event of any aggression by Russia against Ukraine or other countries, these warehouses would be launched by a special EU-US committee or within the OECD, and Russian pipelines would be cut, the analyst suggested.
– Gas belonging to Gazprom, which stores huge amounts of gas in Germany and other EU countries, should in this case be nationalized – the expert believes.
Responding to the objection that such ideas sounded a bit fantastic, he explained that this is almost exactly how the international oil security system has operated for 50 years: in the event of a crisis, 90-day strategic oil reserves are deployed in each member state of the International Energy Agency.
Despite Berlin and Moscow’s rush to make the Nordstream 2 (NS2) pipeline construction through the Baltic Sea a fait accompli, opposition from several EU states has stalled its completion. Meanwhile, Gazprom’s transit contract with Ukraine will expire in January and Moscow has put unacceptable preconditions on negotiating a new one. Once again, Europe must brace itself for a Russian gas-supply crisis. Professor Thomas O’Donnell will discuss European states’ various interests and heightened energy anxieties, the prospects for the NS2 pipeline, and Russia’s strategy.
Speaker: Thomas O’Donnell,
Instructor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin; Title VIII Short-term Scholar, Kennan Institute — Scholar’s Research-Project Page at Kennan
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
2:00pm-3:00pm – 5th Floor Conference Room