May 4, 2016 -
Boris Stepnov, PolitRussia -
Translated by J. Arnoldski
As is well known, the contract on the transit of natural gas through Ukraine ends in 2019 and alternative supply routes to Europe are required to be built before this time. During recent discussions at the European Parliament, delegates from the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine and Naftogaz called the “Nord Stream-2” a “gas-killer” and appealed to the mercy of Europeans.
Just the other day during the Central European Gas Forum in Bratislava, “Gazprom Exports" advisor Andrey Konoplyanik mentioned the possibility of resuming the “South Stream” project in a new version based out of Crimea. He stated: “Russia has the right to seek a route for gas exports with the lowest risk for the fulfillments of agreements.”
Such statements are far from groundless, and there is a serious probability that South Stream will be revived. Meanwhile, Nord Stream and its extension is all well and good, but guaranteeing an alternative and, most importantly, a reliable path for deliveries would be well advised. Therefore, according to Konoplyanik, Russia is developing routes which can bypass Ukraine and avoid Turkey’s participation.
Moreover, it has been reported that the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, even hinted at the unofficial continuation of work on the project.
Poor Bulgaria is being shoved around here and there. In December, Borisov pointed to the reason for the cancellation of the project as being Brussel’s orders. Borisov stated: “Today the Russian President confirmed the understand that the halt to the South Stream project has occurred not because Bulgaria is against Russia, but because, as a loyal member of the EU, Bulgaria must fulfill all demands [of the European Commission], comply with the sanctions regime, and fulfill provisions for a third energy packet and other requirements related to gas projects.”
In January 2016, the news appeared that the South Stream project would be revived, but in February the Bulgarian Parliament once again, finally rejected the idea of the gas pipeline.
Why is Bulgaria so feverish? Or, more precisely, why is Brussels hampering its will? Or even more precisely: Why is Washington so nervous?
Russia firmly intends to supply gas to Europe and, moreover, intends to strengthen its position in the energy market, something that the US is not too comfortable with. In order to undermine the position of our country, at the very onset the US yanked Bulgaria into rejecting the South Stream, and then Turkey into rejecting the Turkish Stream. The US even began shipping its own liquified natural gas to Europe, something that our domestic experts even dared to call a “gas attack.”
But Nord Stream-2 has still managed to get off the launch pad since Germany still considers itself strong enough to have its own opinion despite Merkel’s apparent obedience to Washington. And, of course, it is clear that Germany is very aware of the benefits of the pipeline - it’s not a bad idea to be at the center of the distribution of Russian gas to the rest of Europe.
Washington, in turn, is perfectly aware that such a course would significantly strengthen the position of Germany in Europe, and that then Berlin would become even less bendable to its will. Against this background, a few [US] tankers carrying liquified gas or shale gas pale in comparison [to the prospects of Russian gas]. Even more so if the South Stream is added to all of this.
At the same time, as the studies of “Energy Insight” show, more than 50 million people in the European Union are forced to choose between buying food and paying electricity bills. Impressive, is it not? Bulgarians find themselves in the most critical such situation, where such a choice haunts 40% of the population. In such a civilized country as the United Kingdom, moreover, according to “Home and Renting” magazine, 2,700 people die every year from hypothermia, as heating homes with electricity is too expensive. And, mind you, this is not Soviet central heating…
Germany is additionally motivated to obtain Russian gas because of the Green Party’s (with Merkel’s support) imposition of the necessity of destroying nuclear power plants. The result is the following:
“Germany is planning to abandon nuclear and conventional energy. This is a utopian plan that will never work. 85% of the population still support this idea, but this will change once it becomes clear just how much energy will actually start to cost. The laws of economics and physics are apparently being thrown out the window with this…Despite the fact that solar and wind generators are being actively constructed in Germany, they provide on average less than 3% of the energy consumed, and guarantee a minimum generation of only .4%…In order to reach 3% of the guaranteed energy generation and abandon Germany’s three nuclear power plants, the Germans will need the same amount of funds for which 85 new nuclear power plants could be built.”
The absurdity of such a path is clear, but Sweden is also phasing out nuclear power under “green” pressure. Alternative energy using renewable resources has become quite fashionable in today’s Europe even though it has a fairly narrow niche - using such energy is only logical in a specific climate and under particular conditions. In Germany, in the conditions of the Old World, “green” energy is doomed to fail.
Back in 2014, President Jerome Ferrier of the International Gas Union openly assessed the situation in the following way:
“In the current situation of tension between Russia and Ukraine, some activists are trying to convince us that Europe can get along without Russian gas by seeking other supplies. This is a completely false conviction.”
Although news is spreading of the possible resumption of negotiations on the South Stream project, there is yet another interesting point. Not a single European country officially recognizes Crimea as Russian.
As they say, however, hunger is not an aunt, especially not energy-related hunger. Europe and especially Bulgaria’s needs for gas could ultimately overcome all political factors. In fact, the carrot has already been hung in front of Bulgaria’s nose: if you want gas, then recognize Crimea.
We will find out later what the final decision will be. In the meanwhile, Russia is already very successfully probing the soil.
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