Friday, November 29, 2019

The role of Azerbaijan in Europe's energy security

An article in Foreign Policy of may 2018 but still an interesting read on Azerbaijan's important contribution to energy security. The country's geographical situation makes it favourable for LNG terminals in Georgia:

"Russia has a track record of using energy as a tool of aggression, and each barrel of oil and cubic meter of gas that Europe can buy from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, or Turkmenistan is one less that it must depend on from Russia. Currently, there are three major oil and gas pipelines in the region, which bypass Russia and Iran and run through the 60-mile-wide Ganja Gap: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey and then to the outside world through the Mediterranean; the Baku-Supsa pipeline, which carries oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and then to the outside world; and the South Caucasus pipeline, which runs from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and which will soon link up with the proposed Southern Gas Corridor to deliver gas to Italy and then to the rest of Europe."


"Indeed, given the strength of Moscow’s ties to Yerevan, the United States and Europe should prioritize relations with Baku as the critical trade, energy, and economic link between the east and west of the Eurasian landmass. The West should strive for cordial relations with Armenia, but the United States needs to be mindful and realistic when setting its strategic priorities in the region. Armenia is largely a lost cause; Azerbaijan, even with all its flaws, is a better bet."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

US Congress sets up sanctions against Nord Stream 2 companies

Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already,” said Risch, R-Idaho, adding he believes the sanctions will persuade the construction firms involved to stop work on the project.
“It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this, if they can do this,” Risch said."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, November 25, 2019

EUGC sentence in OPAL lawsuit explained

In a lawsuit opposing the European Commission and Poland on the subjects of the internal gas market and the principle of energy solidarity, the EU General Court (the lower court of the European Court of Justice) ruled in favour of Poland in a September 10 2019 sentence.

The litigation began, when Poland disapproved yet another exception from the rules of the EU-gas-directive granted to the pipeline operator of OPAL in Germany.
OPAL (short for: Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung) is the pipeline that takes natural gas from Nord Stream 1 (operating since 2011) at the feeding point in north german Lubmin and forwards it through eastern Germany and to the Czech Republic.

In 2009 the german national regulatory authority Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) made a request to the European Commission for two exceptions from stipulations of the EU-gas-directive to the benefit of the operator of OPAL that was not yet completed at that time.
The requested exceptions concerned the rules on third party access and tariff regulation the EU-gas-directive. Underlying is the problematic issue of the respective shares held by the two owners of the OPAL pipeline:  The Opal pipeline is owned by WIGA Transport Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co. (‘WIGA’, previously W & G Beteiligungs-GmbH & Co. KG, previously Wingas GmbH & Co. KG), which owns an 80% share of that pipeline, and E.ON Ruhrgas AG, which owns a 20% share thereof. WIGA is jointly controlled by OAO Gazprom and BASF SE. The company operating the share of the OPAL pipeline belonging to WIGA is OPAL Gastransport GmbH & Co. KG.
The European Commission approved those exceptions.

In 2013 and after that in 2016 the BNetzA requested adaptions to the exceptions granted in 2009 to the operators of the OPAL pipeline that was completed and operating by that time.
The variation proposed by the BNetzA consisted of replacing the restriction imposed by the original decision on the capacity that could be reserved by dominant undertakings and in consequence increase the capacity of the pipeline.

In October 2016, the Commission adopted the exemption of the OPAL pipeline from the requirements on third party access and tariff regulation.
Poland brought legal proceedings against this decision before the EUGC claiming that this decision violates several principles of EU law and international treaties and therefore should be annulled.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Nord Stream 2: german government lobbied against US-sanctions

A not specified western european intelligence service claims that Gazprom-subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG gained access to highest reaches of german government and was able to feed them the Kremlin narrative that US sanctions against pipe laying contractors have the finality to destroy the european energy security architecture and eliminate Europa as the main economic competitor.

German newspaper Bild has obtained a document by the intelligence service according to which german chancellor Angela Merkel has personally sent envoys to the US in order to lobby against sanctions in US Congress.

German ambassador in the US, Emily Haber, has sent a letter to influential republican senators in which she expresses her concerns that US Congress may resolve sanctions against Russia.

In a conversation with Eliot Engel, member of the Democrats in the trade and energy committee, Haber explained that sanctions against Russia would jeopardize the transatlantic relationship.

Sanctions against contractors and other companies could delay the termination of Nord Stream 2 for up to five years.
Without obstacles Nord Stream 2 will be operational in fall 2020.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Poland ends gas procurement from Gazprom by 2022

Polish State energy company PGNiG announced that it will allow the gas procurement contract with Gazprom to expire by the end of the year 2022.

Instead PGNiG concluded agreements for LNG with USA, Qatar and Norway and will develop the LNG-terminal in Świnoujście.

It also entered in a partnership with Denmark and develop a pipeline, the "Baltic Pipe" to obtain gas from Norway.

See more information here:,Ab-2022-wird-Polen-kein-russisches-Gas-mehr-importieren

Monday, November 18, 2019

New York Times Opinion: Nuclear power can save the world

Another plea for nuclear in an april opinion piece of the New York Times:

"All this, however, depends on overcoming an irrational dread among the public and many activists. The reality is that nuclear power is the safest form of energy humanity has ever used. Mining accidents, hydroelectric dam failures, natural gas explosions and oil train crashes all kill people, sometimes in large numbers, and smoke from coal-burning kills them in enormous numbers, more than half a million per year.
By contrast, in 60 years of nuclear power, only three accidents have raised public alarm: Three Mile Island in 1979, which killed no one; Fukushima in 2011, which killed no one (many deaths resulted from the tsunami and some from a panicked evacuation near the plant); and Chernobyl in 1986, the result of extraordinary Soviet bungling, which killed 31 in the accident and perhaps several thousand from cancer, around the same number killed by coal emissions every day. (Even if we accepted recent claims that Soviet and international authorities covered up tens of thousands of Chernobyl deaths, the death toll from 60 years of nuclear power would still equal about one month of coal-related deaths.)"

 You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, November 15, 2019

German parliament adopts controversial law on Nord Stream 2

The Bundestag has finally adopted the bill that implements the EU gas directive into german law.
This bill was contentious because it grants an exception to the stipulation of the EU gas directive according to which gas supplier and pipeline operator have to be separated which is not the case of Nord Stream 2, since both supplier and pipeline operator are under control of russian state owned enterprise Gazprom.

After a failed attempt to vote the bill last week, the parliament finally gathered the neccessary quorum.
Only the Green party (Die Grünen) opposed the vote.

More information in the below article:

Friday, November 8, 2019

Vote of controversial Nord-Stream-2-bill failed

The vote on a bill that would allow exceptions for controversial gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from conisting EU law failed due to the fact that german parliament, the Bundestag, couldn't gather the necessary quorum to do so.

Interestingly enough the initiative to abort the vote emanated from the party AfD close to the Kremlin.

The attempt of the AfD-lawmakers is not only to thwart the bill but the EU-gas-directive itself with the aim to pave the way to a rapid completion of the pipeline.
The curious reasoning of the AfD is that the EU gas directive is infringing EU law. From the point of view of the AfD the EU is only competent for the European Single Market, not for pipelines from third-party states that dock on the national territory of a EU-member-state.

The vote is rescheduled to a date in approximately two weeks.

See more information here:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Klaus Humpich: future scope of application for LNG

German engineer Klaus Humpich aka NukeKlaus explains the effects of the shale boom in the US the option to replace coal plants.
He focuses especially on the transport of LNG via railroad cars model DOT-113:

"Ein solcher Kryotankwagen ist nach dem Prinzip der Thermosflasche gebaut. Der eigentlich Tank besteht aus mind. 5 mm starkem Edelstahl (Type 304 oder 304L stainless steel nach ASTM A240/A240M gefertigt). Edelstahl ist notwendig, da normaler Stahl nicht die tiefe Temperatur von -162,2 °C aushält (Versprödung). Die äußere Hülle besteht aus mind. 11 mm dickem Kohlenstoffstahl. Sie ist die eigentliche Schutzhülle bei Unfällen. Zwischen beiden Hüllen besteht Vakuum und eine zusätzliche Isolierung gegen Strahlung (Mylar). Die Isolierung muß so gut sein, daß der tägliche Druckanstieg nur 3 psig (0,2 bar) beträgt. Der Tankwagen muß mindestens 45 Tage unterwegs sein können, bevor er beginnt Gas abzublasen. Er ist also während des Transports hermetisch abgeschlossen und es gelangt kein Erdgas in die Umgebung. Um dies zu erreichen, dürfen die Tankwagen nur mit 32, 5 Gewichtsprozenten beladen werden und bei Transportbeginn höchstens einen Druck von maximal 15 psig (1,034 bar) aufweisen. Der Trick, mit der unvermeidlich von außen eindringenden Wärme fertig zu werden, besteht also darin, stets im Nassdampfgebiet zu verbleiben. Es verdampft beständig eine entsprechende Menge des flüssigen Erdgases – wodurch dieses sich selbst kühlt – und steigt als Dampf in den Gasraum oberhalb der Flüssigkeit auf. Dadurch steigt natürlich der Druck im Behälter an. Um ein platzen zu verhindern, verfügt der Tankwagen über mehrere Sicherheitsventile, die gegebenenfalls den Druck kontrolliert abbauen. Dies geschieht schon bei etwa der Hälfte des Berstdruckes für den inneren Behälter. Bei der äußeren Hülle ist das Auslegungskriterium ein Mindestdruck von 2,6 bar gegen das Einbeulen (Vakuum im Zwischenraum)."
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

German government tricks in order to get Nord Stream 2 going

German newspaper Bild has obtained drafts of a federal bill that significantly softens the requirements of EU law on the permit for natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

The provisions of the EU gas directive stipulate that a third-state (i.e. a non-EU-state) pipeline-operator cannot be simultaneously the gas supplier.

The only exception to this rule applies to pipelines that have been completed before May 23rd 2019.

However Nord Stream 2 is not yet completed (even though the last obstacle has been removed with danish energy authority giving approval to the transition of the pipelin through Denmark's exclusive economic zone) and won't be before 2020.
Thus, the exception of the EU gas directive does not apply to Nord Stream 2. In consequence with public corporation Gaszprom as gas supplier and pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG under control of Gazprom, the controversial pipeline could not be powered up.

Nevertheless german government tries to override those rules in order to get Nord Stream 2 going.

The text of the bill softens the requirement of "completion before May 23rd 2019" to the "accomplishement of major investments transacted before May 23rd 2019". The 2 Bn EUR invested by german companies in this project apparently turned the balance.

The government of Angela Merkel has scheduled the vote of this bill on Friday morning, 2:25 a.m.

According to information by Bild, the EU-Commission views this bill as a violation of the EU gas directive and has announced a possible veto against this exception for Nord Stream 2, should the bill be adopted.

Monday, November 4, 2019

How to react on the impending completion of Nord Stream 2

The Atlantic Council has asked four energy experts about their opinion on what are the sensible reactions to the imminent completion of natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 after the last obstacle has been cleared.

Olga Khakova, associate director for European energy security at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center has a useful approach:

"This is a critical moment for the European Commission to flex its enforcement muscles and ensure that Nord Stream 2 fully complies with the amended gas directive, which expands European Union rules to cover offshore pipelines from third-party countries entering the union. The EU law (the Third Energy Package) entails pipeline and gas ownership unbundling, third-party access to the pipeline, and transparent, nondiscriminatory price tariffs.  If the Commission fully implements the rules, Gazprom would have to make substantial changes to comply with the amendment, which will lead to further project delays. Having to operate under transparent and competitive EU market rules weakens Gazprom’s ability to use energy as a geopolitical lever."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: