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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Here is my talk [English & Ukrainian videos] for the Ukraine Energy Security Dialogue of 01.12.21, via Zoom, organized by Kyiv’s Dixie Group. Program & Speakers are below.
I outlined failures of the legal and political models Russia’s Gazprom has embraced to eventually bring the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into operation under the anti-monopoly provisions of the EU’s Third Energy Package law..
Critical observers have understandably interpreted the public optimism and “gas-Godfather”-like posturing of Kremlin and Gazprom officials as evidence of self-confidence, even arrogance. In contrast, here I outlined what actually amounts to a history of repeated failures of Nord Stream 2 AG strategies.
I termed its first two failed strategies as “Plan A” and “Plan B,” and the current one as “Plan C.”
Here’s my extended interview in Kyiv with two great Kosatka.Media journalists [Read in UA, RU]
18 NOVEMBER 2021 — AUTHOR YAROSLAV MARKIN, TETIANA HUZENKO In 2021, the energy sector of Ukraine faced myriad threats related to the completion of Nord Stream 2, increasing gas prices and coal shortage just before the heating season. At the same time, green trends require decarbonizing the industry and developing the hydrogen direction.
Kosatka.Media discussed what direction is better for Ukraine, whether it should wait for the protection against Nord Stream 2, and where global green trends could take us, with Dr. Thomas W. O’Donnell, international expert and senior energy and geopolitics analyst at GlobalBarrel.com, who participated in the Ukraine Gas Investment Congress held in late October in Kyiv.
One of the key messages at the congress is that whatever the ‘green’ trends are, gas is a transition fuel and we will use it for a long time. Are there any other case scenarios? How should Ukraine act in this situation?
In the long run, we want to have a world that’s not dependent on hydrocarbons. The worst hydrocarbon is lignite and brown coal. And that’s what people s\should concentrate on eliminating. Natural gas in fact is a great way to eliminate coal.
It’s actually an improvement for Ukraine, not only because of global warming, because of CO2, but also for the health of the people since natural gas does not produce environmental pollution. So, increasing the use of natural gas (or also nuclear energy) in a country like Ukraine is to the benefit of the environment and to the people’s health.
However, Ukraine is not a typical European country, it is a country that unfortunately is at war. In such a situation, it has found an intelligent way to access natural gas, which is virtual reverse flow.
My interview with Euronews of 08.11.21, on Gazprom & Putin’s refusal to begin filling gas storage in the EU. This is the only way to diminish the possibility of a gas crisis, of serious heating and electricity shortages should we have another cold and windless winter.
Putin, as always, is “the decider.”
I said: No one knows his game. Will he send his ample gas supplies to Europe, now that Russian storage is filled as of 7 Nov.?
This is a serious issue of the reliability and transparency of Gazprom and Putin’s Russia – the supplier of about 40% of Europe’s imported gas,
The person who invaded Ukraine in 2014 now refuses to send gas across Ukraine. He now has the gas available it and Ukraine is even offering him a 50% discount on transit fees. This could significantly help to alleviate Europe’s looming winter energy crisis.
However, instead, Putin has now put large numbers of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders, de facto threatening the country in recent weeks. The Biden administration is alarmed. It sent CIA director Burns to speak directly to Putin in Moscow – a very unusual event. See CNN here.
This is a serious energy and security situation for Europe and for Ukraine. Shortfalls of winter gas in storage, and also coal in Ukrainian storage is a threat to citizens’ heat and electricity supplies.