“Natural gas instead of Diesel” © REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
My latest at: Berlin Policy Journal (German Council on Foreign Relations), June 28, 2018:
Germany’s Real LNG Policy
Germany’s government has endorsed imports of liquid natural gas for the first time—but not because of Russia and Nord Stream 2.
The German federal government has decided in favor of building liquid natural gas (LNG) import terminals and infrastructure. In March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU-SPD government, in its “coalition contract,” pledged to “Make Germany the site for LNG infrastructure.” This is a notable policy change, because in Germany the opposition to LNG imports and use has been so much stronger than anywhere else in Europe.
The aim of this new endorsement is to reduce maritime and roadway heavy-transport emissions. However, many in Germany argue that using “small-scale” LNG in this way, as a “bridging” fossil fuel, is “wasted investment”. They contend that Energiewende-mandated electric vehicles can and will rapidly de-carbonize heavy transport. Still others oppose LNG imports on the grounds that they would unnecessarily diversify Germany’s gas suppliers with the aim of offsetting increasing reliance on Russian pipeline gas. They insist that Russian pipeline gas has been “historically reliable” and is cheaper for Germany than building large-scale import terminals for LNG.
Posted in Berlin, Energiewende, Energy and Environment, Energy and Geopolitics, Environment, EU gas, Euroepen Union, Gazprom, Germany, LNG, Russia, shale gas, The USA, Uncategorized
Tagged Business, Energy, Germany, USA
June 2018 OPEC meeting’s key players (AP)
Last week, Gillian Rich at Investor’s Business Daily (Washington), asked me (Berlin) and others about the OPEC’s 20-21 June meeting. Below here, I give my views in more detail, including the tie-in to the Trump project to isolate Iran and my comment about Putin likely betraying the Iranians again. The IBD piece is here: Trump Could Make OPEC’s Next Meeting As Dysfunctional As G-7 Summit. 15 June ’18.
We spoke about market and geopolitical aspects. On the latter, I emphasized both the Trump Administration’s evolving plan to sanction and isolate Iran, and Russia’s new role as a central player with OPEC ever since the 2016 joint Russian-OPEC decision to raise production.
That’s when Putin played a new role for any Russian leader. Not only did he coordinate Russian oil policy with OPEC’s, he got personally involved in heated discussions, getting on the phone late in the last night with Iranian and Saudi leaders to get the deal sealed. Continue reading
Posted in Aramco, Chavez, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, geopolitics, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, Hugo Chávez, Iran, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Iraq, Iraqi oil, Mexico, Nord Stream, Obama, oil, Oil prices, OPEC, Putin, Rosneft, Russia, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, Sechin, shale oil, Trump, U.S. oil, US Foreign Policy, Venezuela oil
Tagged Energy, Iran, Iraq, oil, OPEC, Russia, USA
Contrary to his campaign hype (see article below), Trump-as-president will not do anything to interfere with the free flow of oil or gas to or from the USA. As I pointed out in the Investors Business Daily interview (Gillian Rich’s story is below), people central to Trump’s administration – such as Rex Tillerson, his designated secretary of state and former CEO of Exxon, and Harold Hamm, Trump’s fracking billionaire friend he wanted for secretary of energy – are global-market-oriented businessmen who would never agree to disconnect the USA from global energy markets.
The free flow of petroleum through the unified global market traded in US dollars – what I call the “Global Barrel” – is central to the business model of every private as well as every national oil company. Today there is essentially one, global oil price. If you break up the global market by limiting imports or exports, you get national markets with national prices. Then what?
If the US price went higher than the global price due to keeping out cheap foreign oil, Trump’s popular approval would dive. And, if the U.S. price went lower due to a domestic production glut of fracked oil, then his support among business would tank.
Moreover, the unified global market serves as the key element in the world’s collective energy-security system by guaranteeing equal access and prices to all suppliers and consumers. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, geopolitics, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, shale oil, The USA, Trump, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged Energy, oil, USA
I was interviewed today by CNNMoney’s Matt Egan on what OPEC should expect from US shale as they hold their 169th “Ordinary Meeting” in Vienna tomorrow (2 June). Indeed, at some point oil production and demand will balance (likely in 2017), and then the Saudis and OPEC will have to cautiously test the presently unknown dynamics of high-tech US shale on the rebound. -Egan cites my point of view in his article. Read on … – Tom O’D.
Don’t bet against the resilience of U.S. oil companies
by Matt Egan @mattmegan5 CNNMoney (New York) June 1, 2016: 12:23 PM ET
Many expected U.S. oil output would collapse under the weight of a lengthy price war with the mighty OPEC, the fractured oil cartel that’s meeting in Vienna Thursday.
The U.S. oil boom, fueled by the shale revolution, has obviously taken a few punches from OPEC’s strategy of all-out pumping. But the latest numbers show that American production continues to remain stubbornly high in recent months despite the crash in crude to as low as $26 a barrel in February.
The U.S. pumped 9.13 million barrels per day in March, down by a miniscule 6,000 barrels from the prior month, according to stats released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That represents a deceleration from recent monthly declines. By comparison, daily U.S. output dropped by 58,000 barrels in February and by 83,000 barrels in December.
Posted in Energy and Geopolitics, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, High technology, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Saudi Arabia, shale oil, The USA, Tight oil, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged Ali Al-Naimi, Heavy crude oil, oil market, oil price, OPEC, Petróleos de Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, shale oil, Technology, United States, us shale, USA
Last week, Energy Intelligence (EI) quoted me on China’s continued appetite for oil and gas investments in Latin America even with its own economic slowdown and LatAm’s many political upheavals. (Sincere thanks to EI for a PDF of their proprietary Energy Compass to share on my blog. You can access it below here.)
Some thoughts on China’s strategy: In the case of Venezuela, as the price of oil fell, Beijing quickly eased up on PDVSA’s repayment terms for its huge outstanding loans which are repayable in oil. This shows some willingness to help Venezuela cope with the falling market value of oil. Why? Because, mainly, it is the oil that China has always been laser-focused on – not making interest on these loans.
Generally, it is clear that new Chinese investments or loans are still possible in Latin America. In Venezuela however, Continue reading
Posted in Brazil, Chavez, China, Economic Crisis, Energy and Geopolitics, Faja of the Orinoco, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Oil prices, OPEC, PDVSA, PDVSA weakness, Rosneft, Russia, Sechin, shale oil, The USA, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil
Tagged Beijing, Caracas, Chavez, China, Energy, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Nicolás Maduro, oil sector, OPEC, PDVSA, Petróleos de Venezuela, United States, USA, 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
What a strange rebellion against the international financial order. On Sunday 5 July, Greece voted “No!” by a resounding 61% to the bailout conditions insisted upon by Berlin, Brussels and “the creditors.” But, what is truly unique here is the alignment of international forces for renegotiation of Greek debt.
Throughout the post-War era, whenever it came down to imposing “discipline” on other small, debt-defaulting states, the most intrepid champions of the norms of the international financial order have consistently been Washington and the IMF (just ask Argentina’s Mrs. Kirchner, she’ll tell you).
Yet, look who agrees with the Greeks that their debts–in their present magnitude and structure–are impossible and potentially disastrous for the country: Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Debt crisis, Economic Crisis, Euroepen Union, Germany, Greece, international relations, Putin, Russia
Tagged Berlin, Business and Economy, Europe, European Union, geopolitics, Germany, Hugo Chávez, United States, USA, Washington