The next few months can be critical for implementing projects to supply Russian gas to Europe. The US administration is stepping up efforts aimed at disrupting the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
At the same time, at the other end of the European energy map – in the Balkans – discussions on a future regional gas structure with a possible parallel renewal of the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to Bulgaria under the Black Sea have livened up against the background of the successful implementation of the Turkish Stream project.
On May 23 at the hearings of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress House of Representatives, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the USA intends to halt the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 project. “We must continue to exert pressure to curtail Nord Stream-2.” We should not increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies. If we succeed, we will help Europe to stand firm “, he stressed.
According to his explicit statements – “while Europeans depend on Russian energy supplies, it limits their freedom of action against Russia. In reality, it is a bit more complicated, but, in fact, this statement is true. We have a real opportunity to detach them from Russia in many aspects. ”
Washington needs to rule out the situation in which “during the crisis period,” Russia might use energy supplies to exert pressure on Europe, Mike Pompeo believes:”We must make sure that they have no such leverage.” (rbc.ru)
Responding to this the Russian Embassy in the USA said that opposing to the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline Washington “is imposing its non-competitive liquefied natural gas on Europe”. Russian diplomats noted that geopolitics again “unduly interferes in the economy” and “discredits the slogans about supplies diversification.”
Russian diplomats recalled that former US President Ronald Reagan, who is “the idol of the current Republicans”, also opposed the construction of a gas pipeline from the USSR to Germany in early 1980s. His administration imposed sanctions against those companies that took part in the construction of the gas pipeline. Then Washington also justified its actions by the need “not to allow Russia to strengthen its influence on the European allies of the United States,” the embassy noted.
This is in reference to the directive of President Reagan, signed in 1983. It envisaged the use of economic pressure in order to limit the foreign and military potential of the USSR and, in particular, to counter the construction of the main export gas pipeline Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod with the participation of companies and banks from European countries.
“Today, in this sense, we seem to have returned 35 years ago. The same rhetoric, the same methods. Only now the administration protects that gas pipeline, because it was built through Ukraine, “the Russian diplomats stressed. They also recalled that Ronald Reagan “had the wisdom” to remove all restrictions two years later because of their “total meaninglessness,” and expressed the hope that the administration of President Donald Trump “will draw conclusions from history much sooner.” (rbc.ru)
Berlin also criticized the position of the Donald Trump administration regarding the project for constructing the second stage of the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. German Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said that Washington’s goal is to ensure the supply of large volumes of its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. “They have an extensive infrastructure of terminals for liquefied natural gas, which they must use for their own benefit,” the minister said.
He stressed that the USA remains to be Germany’s friends and partners, but the German government prefers to defend “common values”: if Washington follows the “America first” principle and protects primarily its own interests, then the USA should understand that Europe will defend the European ones.
In addition, Peter Altmaier expressed doubts that the US administration will succeed in achieving its geo-economic goals in the energy sector even if the project for the construction of the second stage gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is eventually blocked since liquefied natural gas will still cost the Europeans more than the pipeline gas. “So blocking Nord Stream-2 on its own will not guarantee the export of American LNG to Europe,” the German minister said. (rbc.ru)
Former German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was even more outspoken on this matter. According to him, the US resistance to the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline has no rational justification; it can be explained only by the commercial interests of competitors.
“There are no rational arguments against the” Nord Stream – 2 “, such arguments are just being made up. Behind them are private and economic interests of competitors, in particular, the United States” – he said during a business breakfast at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
According to Gerhard Schroeder, who is the chairman of the board of directors of Nord Stream AG, the USA wants to sell its liquefied natural gas to European consumers, without taking into account whether it meets the quality and particular characteristics of European capacities. Such behavior threatens the energy security of the region’s gas infrastructure” – Gerhard Schroeder said. (rbc.ru)
Germany’s position on the Nord Stream-2 project is determined by purely economic, as well as, in broader terms, pan-European considerations – taking into account the growing tension in relations between the USA and its European allies.
«Even as the European leaders remain at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, Syria and other issues, the Iran crisis is pushing them closer together. At the same time, Angela Merkel’s ties with Trump are deteriorating, with the USA now threatening to punish German companies involved in building a new pipeline for Russian gas under the Baltic Sea», – the American business news agency Bloomberg says.(bloomberg.com)
Increasing pressure on European governments and companies to force them to abandon the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 project, in addition to deepening the contradictions on both sides of the Atlantic, has another important consequence.
The pressure on the above project irrespective of its results objectively increases the chances of implementing energy sector projects on the south-eastern flank of Europe. The countries located there are clearly in a hurry to raise their own bets in the energy party in order to get the role of not only the regional but also the pan-European gas distribution hub.
Within the given context, it is by no means accidental that the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, during a two-day visit to Russia, re-created a new project for the construction of a Russian-Bulgarian gas pipeline. Recalling the Russian-German gas project, as well as the importance of energy security for Sofia and Brussels, he said: “I hope that our governments will reconsider the possibility of direct gas supplies from Russia through the Black Sea.” At the same time, Radev stressed that Russia has always been Bulgaria’s strategic partner in the energy sector, supplying natural gas, oil and nuclear fuel. (rbc.ru)
Rumen Radev elaborated on the subject in an interview with the Russian media, timed for his visit to Sochi. “Undoubtedly, the safest, most reliable and cheapest way is direct. Especially when it comes to the supply of additional Russian natural gas to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and northern Italy. For Russia as well as for Bulgaria, a logical choice for expanding the supply of Russian natural gas to Europe is through Bulgaria, “he said. (kommersant.ru)
It is obvious that in the near future we can expect intensification of bilateral and multilateral discussions regarding the future gas transportation infrastructure in South-Eastern Europe with its “linkage” to Austria or Italy. And Bulgaria and Turkey will be the key players here. Ankara is unlikely to take a positive view of Sophia’s intention to lock on itself regional gas flows, instead of receiving gas from the second “Turkish stream” export line.
The publication in one of the leading Turkish newspapers – Habertürk is quite telling – without mentioning the initiative of the Bulgarian side, it has actually joined the discussion about who will become the main beneficiary of the Russian gas transit: “Where from and where to will the second line of the”Turkish stream” go? It is unknown yet. What will this line be: Greece – Italy, Bulgaria – Serbia – Hungary? Time will tell”. (haberturk.com)
The interest of the countries of South-Eastern Europe in becoming not only consumers but also transit hubs of Russian gas is also determined by their geographical location, which complicates the receipt of LNG tankers from the USA (unlike the capabilities of Germany, Poland or the Baltic countries). Appropriate receiving and re-gasification terminals can only be used in Croatia and Greece, but undeveloped pipeline infrastructure for further transportation deprives such supplies of economic meaning for countries such as Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovakia.
The current multi-directional trends in the world oil market is an additional factor of uncertainty – as the situation in the market directly determines the gas price. Most experts refrain from long-term forecasts, but several estimates foreshadow a further increase in world oil prices. Thus, the experts of Bank of America predict that the price of oil will return to $ 100 per barrel by 2019, and specialist in the field of oil hedge funds Pierre Andurand believes that even $ 300 per barrel “is not impossible.” (vestifinance.ru)
It should also be taken into consideration that the continuing trend towards an increase in world oil prices objectively undermines the belief in the ability of the US shale industry (both oil and gas) to effectively influence global processes. “Shale oil will not solve the current oil supply problems” the British Guardian quotes Goldman Sachs experts as saying. (theguardian.com)
The key shale oil field in the USA – the Permian – is operating at its limit. It suffers from a lack of space not only for oil production, but also for natural gas production, – analysts of S & P Global Platts warn. (vestifinance.ru)
All this, in turn, betokens new attempts by the Donald Trump administration to achieve its global economic goals by what is called in political economy as “measures of non-economic coercion”.
First published in our partner International Affairs
Europe leads the global clean energy transition
An ambitious political agreement on increasing renewable energy use in Europe was reached today between negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. Today’s deal means that two out of the 8 legislative proposals in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package (adopted by the European Commission on 30 November 2016) have been already agreed by the co-legislators. On 14 May, the first element of the package, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive, was adopted. Thus, progress and momentum towards completing the Energy Union is well under way and the work started by the Juncker Commission, under the priority “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy” is delivering its promises.
The new regulatory framework includes a binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of 32% with an upwards revision clause by 2023.Thiswill greatly contribute to the Commission’s political priority as expressed by President Juncker in 2014 for the European Union to become the world number one in renewables. This will allow Europe to keep its leadership role in the fight against climate change, in the clean energy transition and in meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement. The rules agreed today serve also to create an enabling environment to accelerate public and private investment in innovation and modernisation in all key sectors. We are making this transition to a modern and clean economy taking into account the differences in the energy mix and economic structures across the EU. Beyond updating and strengthening our energy and climate legislation, the EU aims at developing enabling measures that will stimulate investment, create jobs, improve the skills of people, empower and innovate industries and ensure that no citizen, worker or region is left behind in this process.
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Renewables are good for Europe, and today, Europe is good at renewables. This deal is a hard-won victory in our efforts to unlock the true potential of Europe’s clean energy transition. This new ambition will help us meet our Paris Agreement goals and will translate into more jobs, lower energy bills for consumers and less energy imports. I am particularly pleased with the new European target of 32%. The binding nature of the target will also provide additional certainty to the investors. I now call on the European Parliament and the Council to continue negotiating with the same commitment and complete the rest of the proposals of the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package. This will put us on the right path towards the Long-Term Strategy that the Commission intends to present by the end of this year”.
- Sets a new, binding, renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of 32%, including a review clause by 2023 for an upward revision of the EU level target.
- Improves the design and stability of support schemes for renewables.
- Delivers real streamlining and reduction of administrative procedures.
- Establishes a clear and stable regulatory framework on self-consumption.
- Increases the level of ambition for the transport and heating/cooling sectors.
- Improves the sustainability of the use of bioenergy.
Following this political agreement, the text of the Directive will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators in the coming months, the updated Renewable energy Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member States will have to transpose the new elements of the Directive into national law 18 months after its entry into force.
The Renewable Energy Directive is part and parcel of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities to build “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy”. The Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition. For this reason the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030, while modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. In doing so, the Commission is guided by three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers. By boosting renewable energy, which can be produced from a wide variety of sources including wind, solar, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass, the EU lowers its dependence on imported fossil fuels and makes its energy production more sustainable. The renewable energy industry also drives technological innovation and employment across Europe.
The EU has already adopted a number of measures to foster renewable energy in Europe. They include:
- The EU’s Renewable energy directive from 2009 set a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. To achieve this, EU countries have committed to reaching their own national renewables targets. They are also each required to have at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.
- All EU countries have adopted national renewable energy action plans showing what actions they intend to take to meet their renewables targets.
As renewables will continue to play a key role in helping the EU meet its energy needs beyond 2020, Commission presented on 30 November 2016, as part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans, package, its proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive.
A Clean, Secure Future: Reshaping Turkey’s Energy Sector
Turkey has limited fossil-fuel reserves other than coal, but has huge potential in renewable resources, including hydroelectric, solar and wind power, among others. As the demand for energy grows, it has become increasingly important for Turkey to diversify its energy sources and increase national contribution, while also pursuing greater efficiency to manage the growth in demand.
Between 2012 and 2015, The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) provided financing for the energy sector, supporting four renewable-energy development projects and six energy-efficiency projects. The IsDB extended a Financing Facility approach which worked through an implementing partner: The Turkiye Sinai Kalkinma (TSKB, known in English as the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey).
The combined costs of the projects amounted to US$641.2 million of which IsDB provided US$100 million. All ten projects are already proving to be mightily successful with the energy efficient projects having already decreased its greenhouse emissions by 1,006,000 tonnes, surpassing their target of decreasing emissions by 300,000 tonnes.
A New Approach in Islamic Financing
This was the first time IsDB used Restrictive Mudarabah financing. Under this mode of financing, The IsDB provides capital to Mudarib (in this case, TSKB) to invest in business enterprises, as per the agreed criteria. This approach eliminated the need for IsDB to enter into individual financing agreements for each sub-project being financed and gave a lot of freedom to TSKB as the local executing agency.
Two of the hydroelectric dams supported by the facility: Goktas I and Goktas II lie in a valley deep in the mountains north of Adana. The projects combined capacity, once both dams are operational will be 276MW. Additonally a 52KM road, built under the Facility to provide access to these dams has helped to open up the entire region as well as three new bridges crossing the Zamanti River. These have had a significant effect on people living in the area as previously isolated settlements are now connected to larger towns and cities. This means that people can access hospitals, schools and other services more quickly. The construction company: Bereket Enerji responsible for the dams created over 450 jobs during the construction phase of the project and this almost doubled during peak construction times. Mr Ahmet Yilmaz, from Boztahta Village, who works as a general foreman spoke of the benefits of the project. “Previously people were mostly goat herders or seasonal workers in a nearby chrome mine. But the salaries in construction are much higher”.
Solar Panel Projects
The facility has also supported smaller projects that allow companies to generate their own electricity. One beneficiary was Prokon, an engineering manufacturing company located just outside Ankara. In March 2013, Prokon installed 2,040 solar panels on the roof of its workshop. Solar power has huge potential in Turkey especially as the panels generate around 75-95 MW during the peak months of July and August. Between April 2013 and February 2016, Prokon generated around 1,835 MWh from the panels in total. The process has been so successful that Prokon now sells energy back to the National Grid. Prokon have also pursued development of other solar powered equipment such as solar-tracking systems that enable panels to rotate and ‘follow’ the sun thereby generating more power.
Re-using Heat to Reduce Costs
Batisoke, Cimento, a cement company that installed a waste heat recovery system at its plant near Aydin is an example of the country managing its growing demand for energy. This system recycles the heat produced by the clinker-producing process to generate electricity. The successful installation means that the system now provides a significant chunk of the plant’s electricity needs. By reducing costs, the company has become a national energy competitor.
Cheaper, More Efficient Steel Production
The facility has also supported projects in the steel sector. Turkey was the world’s eighth-largest steel-producing nation in 2014 (with around 34 million tonnes). One company taking the lead is Koc Celik, who installed an oxygen-burning system at its plant in Osmaniye. The system increases the amount of oxygen entering the furnace during the melting process making the chemical energy processes involved more efficient. Electricity use has fallen from around 400 kilowatt hours (kWH) per tonne to less than 340(kWH) and the project itself provided 25 new jobs for local people.
The ten projects in the facility have had a huge combined impact. Together, the renewable-energy projects have a capacity of 370 MW and have made significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. These changes are making companies involved more internationally competitive while contributing towards global efforts to fight climate change. If future projects can build on this success, Turkey can look forward to a cleaner, more secure and efficient energy future.
Greece: Sky Is the Limit to Develop Energy Resources at Regional and National Levels
Greece has emerged as a key gas player in the national and East Mediterranean levels. In the regional setting, the acquisition of Israel’s Karish and Tanin offshore gas fields by a Greek company, Energean Oil & Gas, at the price of $148 million presents a milestone. The reason lies in that the approval of the Field Development Plan by the Israeli authorities and the securing of sales agreements guarantee the execution of the $1.3 billion investment plan to fully develop the two fields. The contract for the Karish field’s development foresees drilling in three wells in the first quarter of 2019, and the first gas is expected to flow in 2021. Interestingly, Energean Oil & Gas has secured sales agreements of more than 3 bcm of gas annually and has raised almost $1.2 billion of loans to develop the Karish and Tanin fields.
The Greek energy company has notably worked with arranger Morgan Stanley to secure funding from banks and institutional investors; the capital will finance a Floating Production Storage and Offloading Unit to extract natural gas from the two fields, and a pipeline that will transport gas to Israel.
Thanks to the acquisition of Israeli fields by Greek Energean Oil & Gas, Israel’s energy market is no longer dominated by a monopoly. The Greek energy company’s presence in the Israeli energy setting is accelerated by the granting of five new exploration licenses as result of Israel’s first offshore licensing round that ended in November 2017. The awarded licenses comprise blocks 12, 21, 22, 23 and 31 thus raising the total number of licenses held by Eneregan Oil & Gas to thirteen, providing upside potential for future growth and complementing the company’s East Mediterranean portfolio.
In addition to the Greek penetration of the East Mediterranean energy landscape, Athens also seeks to develop its own gas fields in the Ionian Sea and South of Crete. The Greek Ministry of Energy signed a contract with French Total’s JV ,Italian Edison and Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) securing offshore Block 2, located west of the island of Corfu, as an outcome of the 2014 International Licensing Round. Additional bids that are expected to be evaluated include HELPE with Edison that have established a 50-50 partnership for a Gulf of Patras block; HELPE’s consortium with Total and Exxon Mobil that each hold 40 percent stakes for two offshore blocks south and southwest of Crete; and, HELPE with Spain’s Repsol that each holds 50 percent stakes in an offer submitted for another Ionian Sea block.
Greece envisions reducing dependence on energy imports and increasing public finances through investment incentives and new legislation for onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration and production (E&P). Athens’ interest in the reform of the legal and institutional framework for the safety in offshore exploration and exploitation, including environmental rules, is evidenced in the July 2016 enactment of law 4409 by the Greek parliament that transposed the European Directive 2013/30/EE into national law. Despite the fact that oil and gas exploration and production is a prime strategy for Greece’s economic development, the Greek government has delayed the approval of licenses and permits not only for the onshore licensing round of areas in Southern and Western Greece, but also the second international licensing round that expired in July 2014. This stalling has impeded the opening of new licensing rounds.
No doubt that, there are certain preconditions for Greece to become an energy producer, namely delineation of the Greek EEZ with neighboring countries; a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem; involvement of foreign energy companies in exploration and production activities as means to help Athens realize the potential of its hydrocarbon resources; and, the alleviation of financial risks by the EU through project finance from the European Investment Bank. On grounds of investment decisions based on commercial viability, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development previously funded with two subordinated loans valued at 95 million dollars the Greek Energean Oil & Gas to expand exploration activities in the Greek Prinos field with fifteen new drills scheduled for 2015-2017. That said, there cent decision by Energean Oil & Gasto farm out a 60% interest to Spain’s Repsol for its onshore blocks in Western Greece was driven by the Spanish company’s expertise in conducting a geophysics campaign to process 400km during 2019 that can lead to new discoveries.
In the existence of significant exploitable hydrocarbons, Greece will get tangible benefits for the Greek national economy and the local Greek communities. But to enhance the energy exploration and development process at the national level, Greece should motivate foreign companies to get involved in oil and gas exploration and production activities and partnerships in the country as a means of helping Greek energy companies build knowledge and capacity. The launching of new tenders for exploration and production of hydrocarbons will undoubtedly provide new opportunities for domestic and international companies to work together to create jobs in Greece. This presupposes the enhancement of a stable and secure environment for doing business, i.e. granting licenses and permits on time, transparency in tenders, and evaluation of bids processes. Also critical is the advancement of plans to supply American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Balkans, through the Greek Revithoussa LNG Terminal that not only will establish the US as an alternative source of supply but will also bolster Greece’s geostrategic stand.
At regional levels, Greece should enhance cooperation with Israel on joint development of regional infrastructure for the transportation and marketing of gas, like the East Mediterranean pipeline as a potential route for Israeli gas to Europe, via Cyprus, Crete, continental Greece and Italy. Equal important is the speeding up of plans for the construction of the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) near Alexandroupolis in Northern Greece, as it will provide an additional entry point for LNG to the Balkans and Europe.
Unquestionably, Greece is a uniquely positioned country that can transport energy from the East Mediterranean to Europe and a critical player in developing indigenous and regional gas fields. For the country to advance its multiple energy roles, sky is the limit.
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