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US Threatens European backers of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, NATO in DC’s Crosshairs

US Threatens European backers of Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, NATO in DC’s Crosshairs

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is nearing completion despite all the best efforts by the U.S. to stop its construction, causing a rift between Washington and its largest European ally and the potential end of NATO.

The U.S. is starting to fret about the imminent completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the second of two underwater gas pipelines running from the Russian Baltic city of Ust-Luga to Greifswald, Germany, and has begun issuing informal threats of repercussions to companies who are backing the nearly-finished project. 

According to unnamed sources, at least a dozen American officials from three separate departments held video conference calls with European contractors working on the pipeline, while U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo reportedly warned private European backers of “risk[ing] the consequences” of continuing their support for the key energy infrastructure project.

Several European energy concerns, such as France’s Engie, Germany’s Wintershall Dea and Uniper and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell have indirect financial ties to the massive $11.7 billion-dollar underwater oil pipeline being constructed by Russia’s partially state-owned Gazprom, which will double Russia’s oil export capacity to Europe and seriously infringe on Atlanticist designs over the old continent.

Only six percent of the 1,200-mile pipeline remains to be laid in Danish waters, which is stalled due to U.S. sanctions against the European contractors working on that particular stretch. However, Denmark has recently circumvented the sanctions by licensing different vessels, and construction is set to resume by September.

Gazprom CEO, Alexei Miller disregarded claims that U.S. sanctions would stop the project from being completed, and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the pipeline would be commissioned before the end of this year. The completion of the Russian pipeline would mean a practical end to the viability of American LNG exports to Europe; a fate the U.S. has been trying to avoid since the project’s beginning in 2012.

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

NordStream 2 splits the Western World

NordStream 2 splits the Western World

If we were to paint the current situation with a broad brush, we would receive the following simplified picture. The European Union is split into two camps: the old and new member states. The West is split across the Atlantic: it is – roughly – Washington against Paris and Berlin. The world is split into three rivalling superpowers: the United States (strong military and strong economy), Russia (strong military, weak economy) and China (weak military, strong economy). Western Europe gravitates more to Russia than Eastern Europe does; Eastern Europe in turn gravitates more to the United States than Western Europe does.

The state of affairs on the Old Continent is as follows.

[1] Germany wants a stable energy supply in the form of natural gas and from among a number of providers it has decided on Russia because

[2] Russia has large natural gas deposits and being in need of hard currency is willing to sell its energy resources to any bidder.

[3] Germany and Russia countries entered a commercial agreement which resulted in the construction and completion of one pipeline laid on the bottom of the Baltic: NordStream 1.

[4] Since the capacity of one pipeline was not sufficient to satisfy the needs of Germany and other West European states, another agreement was concluded to build a second pipe along the bottom of the Baltic – NordStream 2 – which is now near completion.

[5] Both pipelines sidetrack eastern European countries – Ukraine, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia – which makes them alarmed because soon Russia will be able to cut off its gas supplies to and through those countries – the Yamal (Poland, Belarus) and Brotherhood (Czechia, Slovakia, Ukraine) pipelines – while continuing the provision of gas to Western Europe, thus breaking the economic solidarity of the European Union.

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

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.

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

There’s No Stopping The World’s Most Politically Charged Pipeline

There’s No Stopping The World’s Most Politically Charged Pipeline

Putin

This week, Denmark granted Gazprom approval for its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, a project that is set to bring 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas into Europe annually. It is one of the most controversial pipeline projects in the world and is now moving ahead despite strong opposition from multiple EU members and the United States.

The geopolitical tensions surrounding the development of Nord Stream 2 are unprecedented. To begin with, Russia has very poor relations with the Baltic states and Poland, nations who will almost always fight against anything they see as empowering Russia geopolitically. Then there is Ukraine, a nation that is strongly against the pipeline due to its fear of losing the transit fees that it currently charges Russia for exporting gas to Europe. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the United States sees this pipeline as a direct threat to its soft power in Europe as well as a threat to its growing LNG exports.

But for all the politics and attention that this pipeline is attracting, the simple truth of the matter is that Europe, and more specifically Germany, needs this natural gas. Germany plans to shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2022. Many have questioned the wisdom—and some even the sanity—of that decision, but it remains government policy. The generation capacity the is being lost in that sector will need to be replaced, in the short term at least, by natural gas.

Despite its green reputation, Germany is a country that generates a surprisingly large portion of its total energy from coal. Its total installed coal-fired capacity is close to its solar capacity, at 44.9 GW, versus 47.9 GW for solar. At today’s growth rates, it’s current solar and wind capacity will not be enough to replace the retired nuclear plants.

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

Trump Loses More than Just the Battle Over Nordstream 2

Trump Loses More than Just the Battle Over Nordstream 2

For the past three years the U.S. has fought the construction of the Nordstream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany every inch of the way.

The battle came down to the last few miles, literally, as Denmark has been withholding the final environmental permit on Nordstream 2 for months.

The U.S., especially under Trump, have committed themselves to a ‘whole of government approach‘ to stop the 55 bcm natural gas pipeline from making landfall in Germany.

I’ve literally documented every twist and turn of Nordstream 2 over the past few years here (check the archives), at Seeking Alpha and my former Newsletter at Newsmax. 

Never once did I think this day wouldn’t come where the U.S. would eventually shut the pipeline down. The reason is simple. Europe, and specifically Germany, need the gas and there is no compelling reason for Germany to cave in the end if it wants to survive the 21st century a first world economy.

Russian piped gas is simply too cheap for any LNG to compete with. 

In a sense, this pipeline is Germany’s declaration of independence from seventy-plus years of U.S. policy setting. Never forget that Germany is occupied territory with more than 50,000 U.S. troops stationed there.

So it is supremely rich of President Trump call Nordstream 2 something that could make Germany a “hostage of Russia” when it’s been a hostage of the U.S. sinced 1945.

Then again, history isn’t one of Trump’s strong suits.

Poland had been the tip of the U.S. spear in this battle, first declaring the joint venture between Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European oil and gas majors — Wintershall, Uniper, Royal Dutch Shell, ENGIE and OMV — illegal and then forcing through changes to the European gas transit rules.

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

Time Runs Out on U.S. Opposition to Nordstream 2

Time Runs Out on U.S. Opposition to Nordstream 2

The Nordstream 2 pipeline represents the last stand of U.S. influence over the internal affairs of Europe. 

Once finished it will stand as a testament to the fundamental split between the European Union and the United States.

Europe will this as its first successful defense of its newly-declared independence. And the U.S. will have to come to terms with no longer having control overseas.

This is a theme repeating itself all around the world right now. 

Your view of Nordstream 2 depends on who you are. 

If you are the U.S. it is a massive rebuke of the post-WWII institutional order mostly paid for by the U.S. to rebuild Europe and protecting it from the scourge of the U.S.S.R.

From Europe’s perspective it’s, “Job well done and all that but Russia isn’t a threat anymore and it is time for us to come out from underneath the U.S.’s shadow.”

And if you are Russia Nordtream 2 is the wedge driving these two adversaries apart while improving national security on your western border.

Europe has imperial ambitions of its own and Nordstream 2 is a very important part of that. Those ambitions, however, are not in line with those in the U.S., particularly under the “leadership” of Donald Trump. 

Trump has this strange idea that the U.S. has gotten nothing in return for our running the world these past seventy-odd years. Our massive trade deficit is wealth stolen by our trade partners in Trump’s simplistic mind.

He refuses to see the wealth we’ve ‘lost’ as squandered by decades of corruption, sloth, regulatory over-reach, etc. 

And so, to Trump, Nordstream 2 is an abomination because he’s funding NATO to protect Europe from Russia but they then are increasing the amount of gas they buy from that very same ‘enemy.’

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

World Seriously Needs to Tell Trump “Go to Hell”

The US threatens German companies with sanctions if they continue with Nord Stream 2. This is not our place.

Neither the US nor President Trump should not be the sole decider of global sanctions. If the EU wants to do business with Russia to secure natural gas, that is EU business.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Germany of being a “captive” of Moscow because of its reliance on Russian energy and urged it to halt work on the $11 billion gas pipeline. U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell addressed the issue in a letter sent to several companies, the U.S. Embassy said on Sunday.

Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, was scathing in his criticism of the U.S. move.

“That the U.S. ambassador is now turning to German companies with direct threats is a new and unacceptable one-sided tightening of the tone in the transatlantic relationship,” Hardt said. “If the U.S. president thinks he has to publicly show he is getting tough on Russia in view of the many question marks regarding his relationship with Moscow, he should not thereby impair the relationship with his most important ally.”

“The letter reminds that any company operating in the Russian energy export pipeline sector is in danger under CAATSA of U.S. sanctions,” the embassy spokesman said, adding that other European states also opposed the planned pipeline.

CAATSA

CAATSA stands for Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Imagine Europe passing a CEATSA and directly threatening US businesses. That’s how arrogant and wrong this policy is.

A Bloomberg Nord Stream 2 Editorial gets it correct.

…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…

Forget Nordstream 2, Turkstream is the Prize

Forget Nordstream 2, Turkstream is the Prize

While the Trump Administration still thinks it can play enough games to derail the Nordstream 2 pipeline via sanctions and threats, the impotence of its position geopolitically was on display the other day as the final pipe of the first train of the Turkstream pipeline entered the waters of the Black Sea.

The pipe was sanctioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who shared a public stage and held bilateral talks afterwards.  I think it is important for everyone to watch the response to Putin’s speech in its entirety.  Because it highlights just how far Russian/Turkish relations have come since the November 24th, 2015 incident where Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 over Syria.

When you contrast this event with the strained and uninspired interactions between Erdogan and President Trump you realize that the world is moving forward despite the seeming power of the United States to derail events.

And Turkey is the key player in the region, geographically, culturally and politically.  Erdogan and Putin know this.  And they also know that Turkey being the transit corridor of energy for Eastern Europe opens those countries up to economic and political power they haven’t enjoyed in a long time.

The first train of Turkstream will serve Turkey directly.  Over the next couple of years the second train will be built which will serve as a jumping off point for bringing gas to Eastern and Southern Europe.

Countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Slovakia are lining up for access to Turkstream’s energy.  This, again, is in stark contrast to the insanely expensive Southern Transport Corridor (STC) pipeline set to bring one-third the amount of gas to Italy at five times the initial cost.

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

Germany Admits it Needs More from Russia than Nordstream 2

Germany Admits it Needs More from Russia than Nordstream 2

During the years the U.S. and its satraps in Poland and the Baltics fought the Nordstream 2 pipeline it was always apparent Germany was in the driver’s seat.  It was also apparent that this would be the wedge issue that would ultimately force Germany to pursue independent policy from the U.S.

Nordstream 2 is and was always a reaction to the U.S.’s meddling in Europe’s energy policy which this cycle of began with the scuttling of the South Stream pipeline in 2013.

From the EU’s perspective changing the rules under which South Stream would operate after the contracts for it were signed was a way of gaining leverage over Russia and Gazprom.  So too was the help protesters in Kiev received to overthrow the Yanukovich government from the U.S. and the EU.

That operation was meant to put the Ukrainian pipelines under EU control where they could dictate terms to Gazprom and choke the profit out of its gas deliveries.  It would also advance NATO and the EU to Russia’s western border and there was to be nothing Putin could do to stop the U.S. from putting nukes targeting Moscow there.

Too bad for them it didn’t work out that way.

This is one of the reasons why the U.S. is so incensed with Russia and Putin over Ukraine.  It’s why his chickenhawks in his cabinet and John McCain pushed so hard for sanctions and weapons support to Ukraine before the dearly-departed Brain Tumor killed him.

Obviously, the other was being stymied in taking over Crimea and forever losing the opportunity to grab the port at Sevastopol.

So, why the history lesson?

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

Trump Folds on Nordstream 2 Because … Logic

Trump Folds on Nordstream 2 Because … Logic

Since its first announcement I have been convinced the Nordstream 2 pipeline would be built.  I have followed every twist of this story from my days writing for Newsmax.

And the reason for my confidence can be summed up in one word.  Money.

Nordstream 2 simply makes too much economic sense for any amount of political whining from the U.S. and Poland to stop it.  Poland has no power within the European Union.

Germany does.  And while I’m no fan of Angela Merkel getting another political weapon to hold over the heads of the Poles, their attempts to derail the project were always going to end in tears for them.

And so now Poland and the U.S. cried a lot of crocodile tears recently when President Trump finally acceded to reality and ended the threat of sanctioning five of the biggest oil majors in the world over doing business with Gazprom over Nordstream 2.

Nordstream 2’s investors are Uniper, OMV, Wintershall, Royal Dutch Shell and Engie.  After all the permits were issued and construction begun the only thing that could stop Nordstream from happening was these five companies folding to U.S. pressure and backing out of the project by calling in their loans to Gazprom.

And when they were unwilling to do that, Trump had to fold because you can’t cut these companies out of the western banking system and starve them of dollars and euros without an extreme dislocation in oil prices and global trade.

Bluff called.  Nordstream 2?  Holding Aces.

Trump?  Holding two-seven offsuit.

Lack of Polish

The big loser here is Poland unless they come down off their Russophobic high horse.

Why is Nordstream 2 so important to Poland?  Because it forces Poland into choosing between two things the current ruling Law and Justice Party doesn’t like.

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

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