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As Winter Comes Pipeline Wars Heat Up

As Winter Comes Pipeline Wars Heat Up 

For all of 2019 December has been a magnet. A number of major geopolitical issues come to head this month and many of them have everything to do with energy. This is the month that Russian gas giant Gazprom was due to finish production on three major pipeline projects – Nordstream 2, Turkstream and Power of Siberia.

Power of Siberia is here. It’s finished. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping christened the pipeline to begin the month. Next month Putin will travel to Turkey to join President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open the first of four potential trains of the Turkstream pipeline.

It is only Nordstream 2 that continues to lag behind because of insane levels of pressure from the United States that is dead set against this pipeline coming online.

And the reason for that is the last of the major energy issues surrounding Gazprom needing resolution this month, the gas transit contract between it and Ukraine’s Naftogaz.

The two gas companies have been locked in legal disputes for years, some of which center on Crimea’s decision to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in 2014. Most of them, however, involve disputes over costs incurred during the previous and expiring gas transit contract.

The particulars today are ultimately irrelevant as these lawsuits have been used as nothing more than blackmail to keep a new contract from getting signed. Ukraine has sued Gazprom in courts, like in Sweden, that rule not by the tenets of contract law but rather through the lens of social justice.

These have been political decisions that allowed Naftogaz to seize Gazprom’s European assets, further complicating any resolution to the conflict. These policies were pursued aggressively by former Ukrainian President and long-time US State Department asset Petro Poroshenko and they have done nothing to help Ukraine.

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