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US Expands Nord Stream 2 Sanctions As Germany Vows Pipeline Completion “Not If, But When”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has long vowed he’ll “do everything” to stop Nord Stream 2, last month indicating the US is building a coalition of countries to fight against it, given Washington sees it as a massive compromise to Russia, giving it leverage over Europe as well as Ukraine.

“From the US point of view, Nord Stream 2 endangers Europe because it makes it dependent on Russian gas and endangers Ukraine – which in my opinion worries many Germans,” Pompeo said weeks ago.

On Tuesday the State Department expanded US sanctions targeting companies working on the Russia to Germany gas pipeline. While sanctions already target the specific European companies and their executives directly at work on the project, they’ve now been extended to include sanctions even on firms upgrading, servicing, or installing equipment on the ships laying the pipeline.

Image via DW/DPA

Here’s the relevant section on the State Department’s updated NS2 sanctions webpage:

“Such activities subject to sanctions pursuant to PEESA (the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019) or other authorities may include, but are not limited to, providing services or facilities for upgrades or installation of equipment for those vessels, or funding for upgrades or installation of equipment for those vessels.”

There remain some exceptions, however, out of environmental concerns. The State Department says the sanctions “will not apply to persons providing provisions to a relevant vessel if such provisions are intended for the safety and care of the crew aboard the vessel, the protection of human life aboard the vessel, or the maintenance of the vessel to avoid any environmental or other significant damage.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bone-Chilling WTF Charts of the Collapse in US Demand for Gasoline, Jet Fuel, and Diesel

Bone-Chilling WTF Charts of the Collapse in US Demand for Gasoline, Jet Fuel, and Diesel

It started in mid-February for jet fuel and in mid-March for gasoline.

Oil companies are reporting financial fiascos every day: Today Exxon reported its first quarterly loss since 1999 ($610 million), on a “market-related” $2.9 billion write-down. “We’ve never seen anything like what the world is facing today,” CEO Darren Woods said.

On Thursday, Texas-based shale-driller Concho Resources reported a quarterly loss of $9.3 billion, after writing down the value of its oil and gas assets by $12.6 billion.

Also on Thursday, it was reported that Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy, a pioneer in shale-drilling, was preparing to file for bankruptcy (what’s taking so long?).

Still on Thursday, Royal Dutch Shell shocked the markets when it announced that it would reduce its dividend for the first time since 1945 (by 66% from $0.47 to $0.16). “The duration of these impacts remains unclear with the expectation that the weaker conditions will likely extend beyond 2020,” the statement said. The already beaten-up shares plunged another 17% in two days. Shares are down 47% year to date.

Earlier in April, among the oil companies that have already filed for bankruptcy, were two high-profile oil drillers, Whiting Petroleum and Diamond Offshore Drilling.

The drama is centered on the collapse in demand for crude oil. Crude oil is primarily used for two purposes: transportation fuel and as feedstock for the chemical industry. Even before the crisis, demand growth has been weak, particularly as transportation fuel in developed countries. But production has been surging, and amid ample and growing supply, prices were already weak, when the coronavirus hit.

Demand for transportation fuel in the US collapsed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gas Wars in the Mediterranean

Gas Wars in the Mediterranean 

The unexpected alliance between Turkey and Libya is a geopolitical earthquake that changes the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East. Turkey’s audacious move has enraged its rivals in the region and cleared the way for a dramatic escalation in the 9 year-long Libyan civil war. It has also forced leaders in Europe and Washington to decide how they will counter Turkey’s plan to defend the U.N-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and to extend its maritime borders from Europe to Africa basically creating “a water corridor through the eastern Mediterranean linking the coasts of Turkey and Libya.” Leaders in Ankara believe that the agreement “is a major coup in energy geopolitics” that helps defend Turkey’s “sovereign rights against the gatekeepers of the regional status quo.” But Turkey’s rivals strongly disagree. They see the deal as a naked power grab that undermines their ability to transport natural gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe without crossing Turkish waters. In any event, the Turkey-Libya agreement has set the stage for a broader conflict that will unavoidably involve Egypt, Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Russia and the United States. All parties appear to have abandoned diplomatic channels altogether and are, instead, preparing for war.

On November 27, Turkey and Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that commits Turkey to providing military assistance to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA). The MoU also redraws Turkey’s maritime boundaries in a way that dramatically impacts the transport of gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe. Israel is particularly worried that this new deal will undermine its plans for a 1,900-kilometer EastMed pipeline connecting the Leviathan gas field, off the coast of Israel, to the EU. YNET News summarized Israel’s concerns in an ominously titled article: “Turkey’s maneuver could block Israel’s access to the sea”. Here’s an excerpt:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Gasmaggedon” Sweeps Over Global Gas Market

“Gasmaggedon” Sweeps Over Global Gas Market

CNOOC LNG

China’s state-owned gas importers are considering declaring force majeure on LNG imports, which would amplify the turmoil in global gas markets.

LNG prices have already plunged to their lowest levels in a decade in Asia as the ramp up of supply in 2019 came at a time when demand has slowed. That was true before the outbreak of the coronavirus. But the quarantine of around 50 million people and the shutdown of huge swathes of the Chinese economy has sent shockwaves through commodity markets.

Shipments of oil and gas are backing up at Chinese ports, which is creating ripple effects across the world. Now, Chinese state-owned CNOOC is considering declaring force majeure on its LNG import commitments, according to the FT. Sinopec and CNPC are also apparently considering the move.

Prices were already in the dumps. JKM prices recently fell to 10-year lows. But they have continued to decline, approaching $3/MMBtu for the first time in history. Just a few weeks ago, JKM prices were trading at around $5/MMBtu, itself an incredibly low price for this time of year.

LNG exports from the U.S. are uneconomical at these price levels. Many exporters have contracts at fixed, higher prices. But shipments can be cancelled for a fee. And any spot trade would be hit hard. The question now is whether shipments will come to halt. “Forward prices for summer are now at levels where U.S. LNG shut-ins begin to seem viable,” Edmund Siau, a Singapore-based analyst with energy consultant FGE, told Bloomberg. “There is usually a lead time before a cargo can be canceled, and we expect actual supply curtailments to start happening in summer.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russian Gas Mega-Pipeline To China Goes Online As Putin & Xi Hail Closer Ties

Russian Gas Mega-Pipeline To China Goes Online As Putin & Xi Hail Closer Ties

Late Monday Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin jointly launched the major unprecedented cooperative project that had been years in the making called the ‘Power of Siberia’ gas pipeline.

The China-Russia east-route pipeline is now providing China with Russian natural gas, which according to Chinese state media is expected to reach 5 billion cubic meters in 2020 and increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024.

Crucially, S&P Global Platts estimates that total sales through the pipeline is projected to meet nearly 10% of China’s entire gas supply by 2022, ensuring vital energy security as Beijing continues to feel the pressure and uncertainty of the trade war with Washington. 

A Chinese section of the China-Russia East Route natural gas pipeline in Heihe, China. Image source: CNN/Getty Images

The ceremony to officially bring the pipeline online was held as a video call between Xi and Putin was underway. Xi told Putin: “The East-route natural gas pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation and a paradigm of deep convergence of both countries’ interests and win-win cooperation.”

The deal had been cemented in May 2014 when Russian gas giant Gazprom signed a 30-year contract with China National Petroleum Corp, after which the pipeline agreements were signed with both leaders present in Shanghai in later 2014.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced to both leaders that the pipeline had been opened via video link. “Gas is flowing to the gas transmission system of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

A 30-year deal was signed by Putin and Xi in 2014, and while a final figure has not been announced, it is believed to be worth more than $400 billion. — CNN

Gazprom will oversee operation of the mammoth pipeline which runs more than 8,100 kilometers (5,000 miles) across the two countries.

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

I want to be optimistic about the future. I really do.

But there’s virtually no chance of the world transitioning gently to an alternative energy-powered future.

These Are The ‘Good Old Days’

I’m often asked where I stand on wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

My answer is: I love them. But they’re incapable of enabling our society to smoothly slip over to powering itself by other means.

They’re not going to “save us”.

Some people are convinced otherwise. If we can just fight off the evil oil companies, get our act together, and install a national alternative energy system infrastructure, we’ll be just fine.  Meaning that we”ll be able to continue to live as we do today, but powered fully by clean renewable energy.

That’s just not going to happen. At least, not without a lot of painful disruption and sacrifice.

The top three reasons why are:

  1. Math
  2. Human behavior
  3. Time, scale, & cost

I walk through the detail below. I’m doing so to debunk the magical thinking behind the current “Green Revolution” because I fear it offers a false promise.

Look, I’m a huge fan of renewable energy. And I’m 1,000% in favor of weaning the world off of its toxic addiction to fossil fuels.

But we have to be eyes wide open about our future prospects. Deluding ourselves with “feel good” but unrealistic expectations about green energy will result in the same sort of poor decisions, malinvestment, and crushed dreams as fossil-based system has.

As we constantly repeat here at Peak Prosperity: Energy is everything.  

Without as much available, the future is going to be exceptionally difficult compared to the present. Which is why I call the time we’re living in now The Good Old Days.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil has recently discussed with operators selling part or all of its assets in the UK North Sea in a move that could raise up to US$2 billion for Exxon and mark another major U.S. exit from the area, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting three industry sources familiar with the matter.

Exxon has been a major investor in the UK North Sea since 1964, when the first exploration drilling in the area began. The U.S. major holds interests in 40 producing oil and gas fields and produces around five percent of UK oil and gas production, with an average 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day. Exxon’s investment in the North Sea is managed through a 50/50 joint operation with Shell.

If Exxon sells some or part of its assets in the UK North Sea, it will be yet another major U.S. oil and gas firm to divest interests in this mature area to focus on their current key growth areas, which for Exxon right now are the Permian in Texas and conventional oil production offshore Guyana.

While European supermajors Shell, BP, and Total continue to view the North Sea as one of their core assets, U.S. majors have been selling North Sea stakes as many of them are now focused on U.S. shale.

Marathon Oil said in February that it would be exiting the UK North Sea as it continues to focus on high-return U.S. shale oil operations.

In April, ConocoPhillips sold its UK oil and gas business to Chrysaor Holdings for US$2.675 billion in a deal which Wood Mackenzie described as “another story of the changing corporate landscape in the North Sea – for the first time, a non major is the number one producer in the UK.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Visualizing How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle?

Visualizing How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle?

When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But, as Visual Capitalist’s Nicholas LePan notes, there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…

Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.

Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do You Remember The Oil Crisis And “Stagflation” Of The 1970s? In Many Ways, 2019 Is Starting To Look A Lot Like 1973…

Do You Remember The Oil Crisis And “Stagflation” Of The 1970s? In Many Ways, 2019 Is Starting To Look A Lot Like 1973…

The price of gasoline is rapidly rising, economic activity is slowing down, the Middle East appears to be on the brink of war, and Democrats are trying to find a way to remove a Republican president from office.  In many ways, 2019 is starting to look a lot like 1973.  For many Americans, the 1970s represent a rather depressing chapter in U.S. history that they would just like to forget, but the truth is that if we do not learn from history it is much more likely that we will repeat our mistakes.  And without a doubt, right now a lot of things are starting to move in a very ominous direction.

“Stagflation” was a term that was made popular in the 1970s, and it occurs when there is a high rate of inflation but economic growth is declining or stagnant.

The U.S. hasn’t had a serious bout with stagflation in quite a while, but it appears that we may be moving in that direction.

Let’s talk about the slowdown in the economy first.  On Monday, we learned that sales of existing homes in the U.S. were way down in March

Home sales are struggling to rebound after slumping in the second half of last year, when a jump in mortgage rates to nearly 5% discouraged many would-be buyers. Spring buying is so far running behind last year’s healthy gains: Sales were 5.4% below where they were a year earlier.

On a year over year basis, existing home sales have now fallen for 13 months in a row.

That is terrible, and there is no way to “spin” that fact to make it look good.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Is Just The Beginning Of Europe’s Gas War

This Is Just The Beginning Of Europe’s Gas War

Globe

In a move that should not surprise energy pundits nor even those that follow geopolitical news in Europe, on Thursday Russian gas giant Gazprom said it’s looking to gain an even larger gas market share in Europe following record-high 2018 exports, as it expects a decline in Europe’s gas output combined with rising demand. Last year Gazprom sold more than 200 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas to Europe, including Turkey, while its gas market share in the region rose to more than a third, Reuters said in a report on the matter.

Elena Burmistrova, in charge of the Gazprom’s exports, said the company would be able to offset a production decline in the EU, mainly at the Netherlands’ Groningen, once Europe’s largest natural gas field. “North Sea production is also gradually declining … So, the space for Russian gas is being freed up,” she said on the sidelines of the European Gas conference in Vienna.

Future gas wars

Gazprom’s statement comes as EU gas production is projected to spiral downward over the next 12 years. Regardless of possible development of non-traditional gas resources, production will decline by 43% against the 2013 level, Russia’s National Energy Security Fund (NESF) said recently.  Moreover, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that EU gas production will halve by 2040.

This dwindling production also comes as a number of EU states are poised to break away from over-reliance on both nuclear and coal needed for power generation, leaving opportunities for renewables, particularly solar and wind power, as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. However, all of these sources will take more time and funding to develop before they can add a more significant percentage of the bloc’s energy mix going forward.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

German Business Blasts Trump’s NordStream 2 Sanctions As “Attack On EU Sovereignty”

A German business group said on Friday that any attempts by the United States to stop Europe from buying Russian gas in the form of additional sanctions against Moscow would be an attack on European sovereignty, reports Reuters.

“If the U.S. decided to sanction the use of Russian gas, that would be an attack on German and European sovereignty,” said Wolfgang Buechele, chairman of the German Committee on East European Economic Relations (GCEEER?) at a new year news conference.

The United States has threatened sanctions against European firms involved with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which would carry gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The project is being spearheaded by Russian state gas giant Gazprom, and has been driving a wedge between Germany and its allies over economic harm to Ukraine, which would be deprived of lucrative gas transit fees it currently charges.

“I believe the Nord Stream 2 project is in the pure interests of not just Germany but also of Europe,” said Buechele of the pipeline, which would branch off into Europe-wide gas transmission networks.

In July, President Trump slammed Germany at a bilateral breakfast in Brussels for being a “captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia.”

The former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that is supplying the gas,” Trump continued.

“Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas. So you tell me, is that appropriate?” Trump asked. “It should have never been allowed to happen. So Germany is totally controlled by Russia.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Ins and Outs of Israel’s Pipeline to Europe.

The Ins and Outs of Israel’s Pipeline to Europe.

Israel announced a major pipeline project from the gas fields off its shore involving four countries, terminating in northern Italy.  The EastMed Pipeline could be one of the longest in history as well as one of the most technically difficult to pull off.

eastmed pipeline

The deal was announced on World Israel News a few days ago and has been in negotiation for a couple of years now.

It’s being billed as a counter to both Arab and Russian power but that’s not really true.  This will supposedly deliver 20 bcm annually to Cyprus, Greece and Italy and come at a significant cost because of the challenge of it.  But the first train will be 10 bcm according to IGI Poseiden’s website, the company building the pipeline.  10 bcm is similar in size to the Southern Gas Corridor bringing gas in from Azerbaijan.

The agreement has been some two years in the works, with the four countries’ energy czars signing a memorandum of understanding regarding the pipeline in December 2017. It is considered a technically difficult project to complete not only because of the depth of the undersea route, but also because it will have to pass through a volcanic area in the ocean bottom between Cyprus and Greece.

No discussion of cost was in the announcement.

It was all about the politics.  But, the politics of this is Kabuki theatre.  The Russians don’t care about more pipelines to Italy, now that Turkstream is ongoing and Europe’s gas needs are accelerating.

This is a European Union project developed by IGI Poseidon under the auspice of the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility program.  The EU is footing a lot of the bill for this.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nat Gas Prices Spike On Cold Weather

Nat Gas Prices Spike On Cold Weather

Natural Gas

Natural gas prices are sharply up as cold weather is set to sweep much of the country, putting a strain on already low storage levels.

We are heading into the winter season with natural gas inventories at their lowest level in 15 years. Natural gas inventories stood at 3,143 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending on October 26, or about 623 Bcf lower than at this point last year and 638 Bcf below the five-year average.

(Click to enlarge)

As the chart shows, natural gas inventories ebb and flow with the seasons – drawing down in the winter as American households crank up the heat, and rising again in warmer months as demand slows.

This year has been an interesting one for gas markets. U.S. production continues to break records, with surging output in the Marcellus and Utica shales, as well as skyrocketing gas production in West Texas as Permian drillers pull out gas along with crude oil.

However, higher levels of gas exports in the form of LNG, higher power burn in gas-fired power plants for electricity, and higher demand for gas in petrochemicals and other industrial uses have all led to structural increases in demand. Add to that the seasonal factors – hot temperatures this summer, which stretched into fall, and now, a coming blast of cold weather. In many parts of the country, autumn seemed a little shorter than usual, sandwiched between a long summer and a rapidly approaching winter.

Tight inventories and a bout of cold weather led Henry Hub natural gas prices to jump at the start of November by nearly 8 percent. In fact, prices jumped $0.28/MMBtu on November 5, the largest daily increase in two years. At $3.50 per million Btu (MMBtu), natural gas spot prices are up 15 percent in the past two months, and they are also at their highest level since last January.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey Vows To Make “Sea Bandits” Drilling Gas Off Cyprus Pay “Like Terrorists In Syria Did”

Ankara will not allow any “sea bandits” to roam free and tap the disputed natural gas reserves off Cyprus, Turkey’s president has vowed, while commissioning a new warship to challenge competitors militarily, should the need arise.

“We will not accept attempts to seize natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean through the exclusion of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC),” 

Erdogan said Sunday, according to Daily Sabah. While claiming that Turkey has no ambitions to annex any “territories,” Ankara promised to protect “the rights of our country and of our brothers.”

“Those who thought that they could take steps in the Eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean despite [this] have begun to understand the magnitude of their mistake. We will not allow bandits in the seas to roam free just like we made the terrorists in Syria pay,” Erdogan said at a ceremony transferring the TCG Burgazada corvette to the Turkish Navy.

The exploration of hydrocarbon resources off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus has become a sensitive issue for the international community, ever since the first gas deposit discoveries were made off the coast in 2011. While the Republic of Cyprus belongs to the EU community and is recognized by the UN, TRNC, the northern third of the island, has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. As a result, Ankara continues to claim jurisdiction for offshore research in the East Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich with natural resources.

The region has recently witnessed an escalation in tensions, after the Turkish Navy intercepted a Greek frigate which tried to interfere with a Turkish research vessel’s seabed exploration on October 18. The incident prompted a diplomatic row with Greece, which traditionally supports the ethnically Greek government of the Republic of Cyprus.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Déjà vu: the gas conflict around Cyprus is getting worse

Déjà vu: the gas conflict around Cyprus is getting worse

In early October, the Cypriot government invited tenders for gas extraction in Block 7.1)Ankara believes that this step impairs the interests of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and announced that remedial measures will be taken, which might entail an escalation of tensions in this region of the Mediterranean.

Turkey neither recognizes Cyprus’s maritime borders nor the agreements its exclusive economic zones. Nicosia manages the gas exploration in the waters it considers its own. This leads to a conflict about which the Gefira Team is reporting on a regular basis. In February we described the complex situation in connection with the gas blocks around Cyprus.2)Then the Turkish navy stopped the exploration ship of Italian Eni from entering Cyprus’ territorial waters by threatening to sink it.3)In response, Rome sent its own ships to the region.

So far, the dispute concerned the southern and eastern basin around Cyprus. Last week Nicosia invited tenders for gas exploration in Block 7, which could be another casus belli, because Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are crossed by the Turkish-Egyptian border, recognized by Turkey. Cyprus, however, in 2003 concluded an agreement with Egypt regarding the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which Ankara does not honour.
The Turkish government is of the opinion that both the Turkish authorities and North Nicosia (the capital of Northern Cyprus) have the right to decide on the exploitation of these sectors.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement,4)in which it says that:

  1. mining in Block 7 cannot take place without Turkey’s consent due to the sea border passing there;
  2. Cypriot Turks are co-owners of the island and hence of its natural resources at the bottom of territorial waters;
  3. unilateral invitation of tenders by Nicosia violates the interests of Northern Cyprus and Turkey;
  4. Ankara will take steps to protect its rights and those of Turkish Cypriots, including the blocking of the third party’s exploration5)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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