Monday, September 14, 2020

The network of german social democratic politicians supporting Nord Stream 2

 The poisoning of Alexei Navalny sparked a debate about the future of contentious gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. German newspaper "WELT" has traced back the key players in the political sphere who have initiated and backed this project from the beginning. Pivot of this milieu are former german chancellor Gerhard Schröder and former Stasi operative Matthias Warnig.

"On this solemn day, no one is as close to Russia's center of power as two Germans. In the magnificent Andreas Hall of the Kremlin they stand directly in front of Vladimir Putin, behind them the rest of the 5,000 invited guests. The President will begin his fifth term at the ceremony in May 2018. One of the German listeners before him is very prominent, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The second is less well known: Matthias Warnig, head of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline. Only two guests got similarly good seats in the magnificent Kremlin hall: Russia's Prime Minister and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch.
This picture is more than a snapshot. It's a symbol. For the technology of Putin's rule and for the mechanics of German-Russian relations. The president's influence rests on a network of friends with whom he has allied throughout his life. Thanks to Putin, they came to power.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Nord Stream 2: will Navalny poisoning be the coffin nail to the contentious project?

 After the poisoning of Alexai Navalny the first heavy weight exponents of an end of the construction of the pipeline raise their voices. Former parliamentary leader of the ruling party CDU Friedrich Merz pleads in favour of a 2 year moratorium of the construction work, writes german newspaper BILD:

"The Putin pipeline Nord Stream 2 comes under increasing pressure after the poison attack on the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny (44).
On Wednesday the German government announced that a German armed forces laboratory had “unequivocally” identified a nerve agent from the Novitschok group in the body of the Russian opposition. According to BILD information, the German government assumes that the Russian state apparatus is responsible for the attack on Navalny.
Now Friedrich Merz (64), ex-Union parliamentary group leader and applicant for the CDU chairmanship, calls for a two-year construction stop on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Nord Stream 2: will the project be cancelled over Navalny poisoning?

 Voices are being raised in Germany and especially among members of the ruling party CDU to end the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project after powerful critic of the Putin government, Alexey Navalny, was posioned with the "Novitchok"-agent in Tomsk, writes german newpaper BILD:

"The German government can condemn the poisoning of Putin critic Navalny "in the strongest terms". She can be "dismayed". It can "urge" the Kremlin to explain itself.
But as long as she does common cause with Putin on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, all explanations will be empty words.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

LNG: Ebony Bennett is hard on the australian gas industry

 Ebony Bennett roasts the australian gas industry:

"Here's how the gas industry shafted Australians over the past 10 years. As my colleague and Australia Institute chief economist Richard Denniss has pointed out, Australia once had abundant and cheap domestic gas. The federal government then allowed the gas industry to build massive LNG gas export facilities so that gas companies could sell Australia's cheap gas overseas for higher prices, simultaneously driving up domestic gas prices.

Just as Ireland was exporting potatoes to England during the Irish potato famine, Australia had abundant and cheap gas - we just allowed companies like Santos to export it overseas for bigger profits. On the east coast of Australia, gas production roughly tripled, and so did domestic gas prices.

In the past few years, Australia has overtaken Qatar as the largest producer of liquefied natural gas. But Qatar is better at managing its mineral wealth. In one year, Qatar received $26 billion in royalties from LNG production, while Australia received around $1 billion from our poorly designed Petroleum Resources Rent Tax. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if we had an extra $25 billion in gas royalties right about now?"

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


Mediterranean: EU considers sanctions against Turkey

 Turkey's line of action in exploring possible gas fields in the Mediterranean viewed as illegal by Greece and the increasingle reckless actions of the NATO-member in Libya brings the EU to ponder sanctions against turkish state officials, writes french newspaper Le Monde:


"New stage in the dispute between Istanbul and Athens in the eastern Mediterranean. The 27 member states of the European Union are preparing sanctions against Turkey, which could be on the agenda of the next summit, scheduled for September 24, announced Friday August 28, the high representative of the 'Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.

"In the absence of progress on Turkey's part, we could draw up a list of new restrictive measures" to be discussed at the EU summit on September 24, Borrell said after a meeting of foreign ministers of member states in Berlin.

These sanctions, intended to limit Turkey's ability to prospect for hydrocarbons in disputed areas, could concern individuals, ships or the use of European ports, said Josep Borrell, adding that the EU is would focus on everything related to “activities that we consider illegal”.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Nord Stream 2: how the impeding sanctions might affect the contractors and population of Sassnitz

 Reporters of the newspaper "WELT" have transported to the port of Sassnitz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for a local inspection:

"There is black coffee and apricot strudel in the Peters bakery, Am Fährhafen 4. From the terrace with the neatly laid bricks you have the best view of the yellow crane with the orange tip that towers over everything here.

Nord Stream 2: EU-member-states protest against impending sanctions against contractors

 A majority of member states of the bloc has initiated a "démarche" against the threat of sanctions of contractors who perform services to complete the controversial pipeline "Nord Stream 2". 24 member states supported this "démarche" except for 3 member states not otherwise specified, WELT:

"The European Union has almost lunanimously opposed with a sharp protest note against further American interference in the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2. The wording of the protest note submitted in the US State Department is exclusively available to WELT.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Greek-turkish conflict: France sends battleships and fighter aircrafts to back Greece

 French newspaper "Le Monde" writes:

"France has temporarily deployed two Rafale fighters and two naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean amid tensions between Greece and Turkey over gas exploitation, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced Thursday (August 13th). 
On Tuesday, Ankara said it had sent a ship the day before to search for hydrocarbons in an area two-thirds of the Greek maritime zone, contested for decades by Turkey. Greece immediately reacted by sending a boat to "monitor" Turkish activities, according to Athens, warning through the voice of its prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, "that no provocation would go unanswered". 

Greek-turkish conflict over gas in the Mediterranean; France comes to aid of Greece

 The turkish government makes another attempt for explorations for gas in the Mediterranean. The greek government opposes those activities, because it estimates Turkey hereby violates the greek exclusive economic zone, writes WELT

"The "Oruc Reis" is on the way again. The 86-meter-long Turkish research ship, named after a legendary admiral from the Ottoman Empire, searches for gas and oil deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. The technical equipment on board enables the seabed to be explored seismically to a depth of 15,000 meters. It is already the second research voyage of the ship, it should last until 23 August. But whether this will actually happen is uncertain. The “Oruc Reis” had to abort its first mission three weeks ago. And today the situation is similar to that which already forced the ship to return to the port of Antalya


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Nord Stream 2: Germany's indifference to US positions and the unpleasant surprise of sanctions

 An interesting op-ed piece in the german newspaer "WELT" by Matthew Karnitschnig Chief Europe Correspondent of Politico: 

"If there is one thing that the American president has been extremely adept at since his inauguration in 2016, it is getting under Germany's skin. This is the case with transatlantic trade policy, with defense spending and also with the controversial German-Russian gas project Nord Stream 2.
The latest outburst of anger was triggered in early August by a letter sent by three US senators who supported Trump to the operator of a Baltic port in the constituency of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The senators threatened the port managers with "devastating legal and economic sanctions" if they continued to support the pipeline project by supplying the Russian ships that are building the pipeline. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Destination China: Iran secretly transfers oil to other vessels on the high seas

 Radiofarda writes: 

", a company that tracks and reports shipments and storage of crude oil says Iran probably exports twice as much oil as estimated.
In its latest report, the online service has referred to India's tanker Giessel that recently received its cargo from an Iranian oil tanker in the Sea of Oman and delivered it to China.
Various cases of transferring Iranian oil shipments to other tankers in the middle of oceans have been reported. Such operations are aimed at covering up the source of oil shipments and movements of tankers.
Based on the data provided by Kpler, an international data intelligence company, Giessel's case was first reported by Radio Farda on August 6.2

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

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Nord Stream 2: US sanctions designate german port of Sassnitz; threat of economic annihilation

US Senators, among them Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson have written a letter to the managment of the port of Sassnitz in northern Germany, where the pipes for the remaining 160 km of the controversed Nord Stream 2 pipeline are stored.
In this letter the senators made the management understand that they will face direct and immediate sanctions (travel bans, freezing of assets in the US) should they support further working steps to complete Nord Stream 2. What makes this additionally dicey is the fact that Sassnitz is in the constituency of german chancellor Angela Merkel. Welt

"After the recent US threats of sanction against German project partners of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, German government officials were outraged - nothing more. There was no comment on possible reactions to US interference.
But it can no longer stop tere: In a letter from Wednesday, US senators threaten the German ferry port Sassnitz on Rügen directly and “legally binding” for economic destruction. The port is in the constituency of Angela Merkel (CDU).

Natural gas: Turkey's sabre-rattling in the Mediterranean

Littoral states to the Mediterranean, and especially Greece, are at a loss how to deal with a turkish government that is increasingly bullying countries with natural resources, trying to have a piece of the cake writes german newspaper "WELT":

"A few weeks ago, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said something that sounded reassuring, but on closer inspection it was not. He was "mathematically certain," he told TV station A Haber, "that Greece did not want to go to war with Turkey." Akar referred to the continuing tensions between the two countries, which have been arguing over their sea borders and economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean for years.
Indeed, Greece certainly does not want war. Such a situation would be devastating for the small, economically troubled country. Nonetheless, one of NATO's largest and most expensive air forces and navies is affording itself - solely to be prepared for an armed conflict with Turkey.
Still, Akar's statement was anything but reassuring. Because two things remained unsaid, but clearly resonated.
Firstly, that Turkey is very willing to take up arms in an emergency. Second, that it can stick to the strategy of deploying its research ships and its Navy, which has been upgraded for this purpose since 2005, in waters that Greece claims to have.

Egypt: oil export from Sumed pipeline suffers from lack of demand

"The destruction of European lifting of crude from Sumed was particularly pronounced in June and there has been a slight revival in July. Demand may be helping. Data from the TomTom Traffic Index show congestion remaining well below normal levels in cities in Spain and Italy, key markets for Sumed crude, but a slow pick-up in run rates at the region’s refineries is beginning to draw more crude from the pipeline."

writes Bloomberg.

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

European Green Deal: revision of 2 eco-directives

European Press Service:

"One of the aims of the European Green Deal is to increase the EU's climate ambition so that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by at least 50% and towards 55% in a responsible way by 2030. This was a key pledge from President von der Leyen when she was confirmed in office by the European Parliament. The European Green Deal communication has identified a series of climate, energy and environmental legislation that needs to be reviewed and if necessary revised in order to achieve such increased ambition. Both the Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001/EU) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU and 2018/2002/EU) are among the instruments that are assessed.

As the first step in this process, the Commission has today published roadmaps for the review of both directives to inform stakeholders and citizens of what the goals of this initiative are and which policy options are being considered, and opened a seven-week period (3 August – 21 September) for public feedback on the concept. This will feed in to the Commission’s further preparatory work for these reviews."

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



Nord Stream 2: Germany is wavering at the sight of US sanctions

The CAATSA sanctions have been aggravated and  can also hit german companies and indivuduals writes german Newspaper Welt:

"The federal government's response sounded ready to fight: the United States, with its threats of sanction against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, disregarded "the right and sovereignty of Europe to decide where and how we obtain our energy". European energy policy, said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), was not made in Washington: "We clearly reject extraterritorial sanctions."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tightened the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA for short, by a July 15 decree. This meant that European companies helping to complete the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany were immediately exposed to the risk of American sanctions. Or to put it more clearly: in order to weaken Russia geostrategically, the US is targeting its European trading partner.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

China: Record oil imports from KSA

Reuters writes: 

"Saudi, however, delivered bigger oil cuts from June and raised crude prices as a plunge in oil prices weighed on the kingdom’s budget.

China, the world’s biggest crude oil importer, took in a record 53.18 million tonnes last month, according to customs data.

China also boosted inflows from Brazil, Norway and Angola, said Emma Li, analyst from Refinitiv. 

Brazil, whose massive offshore projects are coming online, offered Asian refiners competitive deals on relatively high-quality oil just as China and other Asian countries contained the coronavirus and reopened their economies.

Analysts expect China to see another record amount of crude imports in July as some May-loading cargoes are still underway while swelling oil inventory at major Chinese ports slows new arrivals."


Nord Stream 2: US government increases the pressure on german contractors

While the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has come to a halt due to sanction threats against the pipelaying operator the US government has now made clear that also german contractors will be targeted by sanctions if they do not establish that they withdraw from the controversial project, writes german newspaper "WELT":

"According to information from WELT, the US State Department asked German and European companies for one-on-one video interviews immediately after this step and made clear to them the far-reaching consequences of further project participation. According to circles of business representatives, German managers sat in the short-term meetings with up to twelve representatives from the three US departments Department of State (Foreign), Treasury (Finance) and Energy.
Among other things, companies should explain what needs to be done on the pipeline to fulfill their work order. The US officials "had made it very clear in a friendly tone that they wanted to prevent the pipeline from being completed," said one observer: "I think the threat is very, very serious." 
Die Firmen selbst, darunter technische Dienstleister, aber auch große Energiekonzerne wie Uniper, Wintershall Dea und Shell, wollten dazu gegenüber WELT keinen Kommentar abgeben. Auch öffentlich zumeist unbekannte mittelständische Zulieferer des Pipeline-Projekts sind Adressaten der Sanktionsdrohung geworden.

Aus dem Außenministerium in Berlin hieß es: „Das Auswärtige Amt hat Kenntnis darüber, dass die US-Seite Gespräche mit deutschen Unternehmen führt, um die CAATSA-Durchführungsbestimmungen zu erläutern.“ Man sei „mit den Unternehmen dazu ebenfalls in Kontakt“.

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


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Nord Stream 2: Russia anticipates possible shift of E.U. countries to hydrogen

As countries of the bloc map out ways to disengage from climate-damaging fuels the plans point towards hydrogen. Russia, the market leader for oil and gas in Europe, anticipates this shift away from natural gas and reshuffles its production capacities. Gazprom will have to reflect the further use of the Nord Stream pipelines. Especially Nord Stream 2 coud turn out a major failed investment, writes german newspaper "Handelsblatt":

"According to Yuri Melnikow, senior analyst for energy issues at the Skolkowo University of Applied Sciences, hydrogen should be produced close to the sales markets. For Gazprom, this is primarily the European market. The company is currently exploring projects within the EU. Another option is hydrogen transport via the gas pipelines.
Otherwise, if the Europeans switch to hydrogen on a massive scale, Russia must fear that the pipelines will be shut down. The 8.5 billion euro Nord Stream 2, which is still under construction, will pay off after ten years at full capacity. If hydrogen production in Europe massively reduces gas imports, Nord Stream 2 threatens to become an investment ruin.
Gazprom is therefore considering sending at least one gas mixture mixed with hydrogen through the pipelines. In old pipelines, 20 percent of hydrogen could be added to natural gas, in new pipelines such as Nord Stream, the share could even be up to 70 percent, Gazprom estimates."

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

Friday, July 24, 2020

Mexico: energy and oil industry perturbed by cartel activity

A feature about the situation in the state of Tamaulipas in the north-east of Mexico by Argus:

 "Over the past seven months, security experts working with oil, gas and renewable energy companies in the region have documented 15 deaths from cross-fire, seven assaults by cartel members fleeing confrontation with a rival gang, 25 kidnappings to extract money or extort information about rival gangs or for fuel theft, as well as numerous cases of vehicle theft and telephone extortion. Despite the high level of criminal activity, charging companies a fee to operate in the state, known as derecho de piso, is not common practice in Tamaulipas as it is in other part of the country.

A handful of illegitimate oil services companies, suspected of being fronts for laundering the profits of fuel theft, are also thought to be responsible for widely documented theft of heavy machinery, valves and pipes from oil field sites.

"Tamaulipas has a very specific security dynamic circled around criminal lookouts," Garcia said. "The groups are not necessarily tracking the companies themselves but are trying to keep track of rival organizations."

Companies operating in the state employ a range of protocols to protect their staff and operations, including daylight-only working hours, maintaining a high industrial profile through the use of vehicles and uniforms clearly marked with company logos, kidnap training for personnel, the use of hotels and apartment complexes that commit to anti-kidnap protocols, and the sharing of real-time data on criminal incidents in order to plan daily personnel movements."

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

You might also check out the very interesting blog "Borderlandbeat" about narcos and cartels in Mexico.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

EU bulletin on energy for Q1 2020

The press service of the European Union has issued its assessment  of prices and consumption of different energy sources. Concerning gas it ascertains:

"The gas report also illustrates a volatile quarter. Energy prices, including natural gas, underwent a steep fall, and the EU gas import bill fell below €10 billion, which was the lowest quarterly total in the last six years.

Gas prices in the EU were impacted by increasing LNG imports and intensive storage withdrawals, ensuring abundant supply on the market, whereas demand for gas was limited by mild weather, resulting in less heating needs, and decreasing need for gas in the electricity sector, owing to high shares of renewables in power generation in Q1 2020.

Russia remained the most important pipeline gas supplier for the EU in Q1 2020, however, its share fell to 40% in the total EU imports, and the gas transit volumes through Ukraine fell by 49% year-on-year, as Gazprom preferred to sell gas from EU storages rather than shipping through Ukraine.

LNG shipments accounted for a new record (28%) of EU gas imports.

At the end of March, gas storage levels in the EU stood at 54% - the highest seasonal figure for nine years.

Retail gas prices for industrial customers with median annual consumption were down by 10%, and for big consumers price decreases were even more marked (17%-20%) in Q1 2020 year-on-year. "

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Former chancellor Schröder lobbies for Nord Stream 2 in German parliament

Ex chancellor Gerhard Schröder was invited to the economic committee of the Bundestag by the leftwing and ex-communist party of the GDR, Die Linke, to speak as an expert on Nord Stream 2 where he spoke against US sanctions against the pipeline and appeals to counter-sanctions:

Schröder is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Nord Stream 2. In the Economic Committee, he now rejected the accusation that Nord Stream 2 jeopardizes Germany's security of supply. The opposite is the case.
The SPD politician also had an answer to the impending US sanctions. Schröder spoke in favor of EU counter-sanctions. The federal government had to put pressure on it at EU level.

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

Friday, June 12, 2020

German officials fear US sanctions against german agencies

As the US Congress, in a rare bipartisan cooperation, votes new sanctions against any company supporting the completion of controversion pipeline Nord Stream 2, german officials fear that those sanctions could also hit german agencies and authorities who perform inspections or certifications, writes german newspaper "FAZ":

"The document points to a bipartisan bill that democratic and republican senators introduced in Washington in early June in the American legislative process. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, "all companies" that "offer services, insurance or certain retrofit services for laying ships" in connection with the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline should "be included" in the planned sanctions. It also says: "The same applies to services such as tests, inspections or certifications that are required for the operation of Nord Stream 2."
The Department of Commerce is now afraid that the proposed American law could also "result in administrative action by state authorities in connection with the completion or operation of the pipeline being relevant to sanctions". The paper says: "It would be a novelty if sanctions were also directed against the authorities of (friendly) governments or even against the governments themselves." In any case, "it can be assumed that the new sanctions proposals will significantly increase the number of German and European companies a potential sanction target ”. American punitive measures against other countries have repeatedly been directed against representatives of companies and authorities. Accounts were blocked or entry bans issued."

Monday, June 1, 2020

Wilhemshaven FSRU is taking shape

MarineLog writes:

"Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL) and LNG Terminal Wilhelmshaven (LTW) have signed an agreement to build and charter a 263,000 cu.m LNG Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) for the planned LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven, which is Germany’s only deep water port and can be reached without any tidal constraints.

The FSRU will be built by South Korean’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) then chartered by LTW (which is a subsidiary of Düsseldorf headquartered Uniper SE) for 20 years.

DSME said in a filing last week that it had signed a contract worth $340 million to build an FSRU for an undisclosed customer.

The FSRU will make it possible to offload, store and regasify LNG for the German market. It will be moored off the coast not far from Wilhelmshaven and will handle incoming LNG tankers there. The regasified gas will then be pumped from the FSRU along a short connecting pipeline under the sea to the port facilities and finally fed into the German gas transmission network. This eliminates the need to construct complex regasification facilities on land."

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


New US sanctions to be introdueced against Nord Stream 2

New York Times:

"Cruz told the Atlantic Council think tank this month that new sanctions would apply to any ship or any owner who attempts to finish the project. Ship officers would lose their ability to come to the United States and all their assets would be blocked, he said."


Thursday, May 28, 2020

LNG market under pressure

The LNG market suffers from a Covid-19 induced oversupply and low prices:


"As a result of reduced industrial and commercial activity, LNG buyers have been scaling down orders and in cases refusing cargoes invoking force majeure. Buyers in Asia and Europe have cancelled about 20 US LNG cargoes for June loading. Prices are now at a level that threatens the economics of not just new projects, but also existing gas production, with some liquefaction plants having to shut-in production – especially in the US.

Prices are now so low, around $2/mmbtu, that US LNG exporters are trading at less than half breakeven levels, weakening their position. With oil prices staying low, oil-indexed LNG prices will also stay low. And with new, and already sanctioned, liquefaction projects continuing to come into the market until 2027, the pressure on prices is expected to continue.

Demand for LNG may remain more or less flat, but it is very difficult to forecast. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that there will be a 5 per cent drop in gas demand in 2020. The biggest problem, though, is increasing LNG production and oversupply – it may take years before this problem fully dissipates.


But some projects, especially those that are low-cost, are still progressing. Qatar LNG has reconfirmed its plans to expand its liquefaction capacity by 30mtpa by 2025, with another 19mtpa to be added by 2027. This is the world’s cheapest source of LNG.

New LNG export projects, and developers, need to brace themselves for a continued glut as further production is added, outpacing global demand, contributing to prolongation of depressed prices."

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


Ukraine ready for US LNG

"Ukraine’s government on Wednesday approved a memorandum on the prospect of importing at least 5.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from the United States, according to a televised meeting.

Acting energy minister Olga Buslavets said the memorandum envisages Louisiana Natural Gas Exports Inc as the seller.

Ukraine has pushed to diversify its energy supplies after relations with its traditional supplier, Russia, collapsed following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How China distorts the stainless steel market

A very interesting article by Elisabeth Braw in Foreign Policy:

"The Indonesian plant, owned and operated by the Chinese stainless-steel firm Tsingshan, opened in 2017. The choice of location was no coincidence: Indonesia has the world’s largest reserves of nickel, a key component of stainless steel. More than two-thirds of the world’s nickel is used to make stainless steel. (Regular steel consists almost exclusively of iron, while stainless steel also contains nickel and chromium.) And the plant’s construction was supported by the Chinese government; indeed, it falls within China’s global Belt and Road Initiative.
Then, when the plant had operated for less than two years, the Indonesian government suddenly announced that it would ban exports of nickel starting in January of this year. Predictably, the move caused global nickel prices to skyrocket. But thanks to its Indonesian plant, Tsingshan is shielded from the nickel hike.
In the past two decades China has conquered the stainless-steel market. Though stainless steel may seem unsexy, it’s vital to virtually every other sector, and production is growing faster than that of other metals such as lead, copper, and aluminum. Weaponry, pipelines, ships, and washing machines all contain stainless steel.
 And in the past couple of decades, the production of steel—the main component of the stainless kind—has shifted dramatically.
In 2004, the world’s top 10 steel producers included only one Chinese company, Shanghai Baosteel; the other top firms were American, European, Indian, and South Korean. Back then, just 25.8 percent of the world’s steel was made in China. In 2018 (the latest year with data available), six of the world’s largest steel companies were Chinese, some of them government-owned, and China accounted for 51.3 percent of global steel production—a figure that doesn’t capture production by Chinese companies in other countries).
On the global top 10 list, South Korea, a former steel giant, is represented only by Posco. In stainless steel, the development is even more stark: in 2005, China produced 12.9 percent of the world’s stainless steel, while Europe produced 34.8 percent and the United States 9.2 percent. By 2018, China had more than quadrupled its share to 52.6 of the world’s stainless steel, while Europe’s share had shrunk to 15.6 percent and the United States had just a 5.5 percent share."

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


After expiration of transit deal: Russian gas transit via Poland drys up


"Russian natural gas transit via the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which traverses Poland, has almost dried up, Interfax cited gas pipeline operators as saying on Monday, days after a gas transit deal between Moscow and Warsaw expired.

Russian gas giant Gazprom declined immediate comment.

The gas transit deal between Russia and Poland, dating back to the 1990s, expired on May 17 as Warsaw aligns its energy regulations with European Union rules and curbs its decades-old dependence on Russian fuel."

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

Russian governement tries to steady battered oil industry writes:

"Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has tasked the government with implementing a set of measures aimed at supporting the oil industry for the duration of the OPEC+ production cut agreement.

According to a document published on the website of the Russian presidency, the measures include a prescription not to sanction companies that stray outside their production quotas and a temporary lifting of penalties for state oil companies for not sticking to their 2020/2021 investment programs.

The document also lists “special rates” to be implemented by pipeline operator Transneft and Russian Railways for transporting crude oil and oil products for the duration of the OPEC+ deal."

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


Germany: outgoing US-Ambassador Grenell announces new sanctions against Nord Stream 2

US-ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell who unexpectedly terminated his appointment last week announces new sanctions against the Nord Stream 2- pipeline and warns Germany to reconsider its relationship to Russia, writes Handeslblatt:

"In the usual undiplomatic tone, Grenell calls on the federal government to fundamentally rethink its policy on Russia. "Germany has to stop feeding the beast while not paying enough for NATO," he told the Handelsblatt. Grenell had already left Berlin on Sunday. He will probably never come back to Germany.
The Americans have long been bothered by German imports of Russian gas. Above all, they fought the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline with a determination that had long been underestimated in the federal government. At the end of last year, the USA managed to force a construction freeze. Your means: threats of sanctions against western specialist companies who lay the pipes on the bottom of the Baltic Sea with their ships. Since then, the Russians have been trying to complete the rest of the pipeline themselves. To do this, they moved two ships to German coastal waters."

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Qatar maintains enhancement of natural gas North Field

Financial Times reports:

"The project will increase Qatar’s production capacity from 77m tonnes of LNG per annum to 110m by 2025, which could rise to 126m tonnes two years later. The move should help the small Gulf state regain the title of the world’s top LNG producer from Australia at a time when other projects have been thrown into doubt by the pandemic."

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

Poland receives LNG from Qatar

"Poland’s sole liquefied natural gas facility in Swinoujscie has received another shipment of LNG as the country is looking to further boost imports of the fuel.
The arrival of Nakilat’s 217,000-cbm Q-Flex LNG carrier Al Gattara on Thursday marks the 95th delivery to the Swinoujscie facility on the Baltic Sea.
The delivery is part of a long-term deal between Poland’s dominant gas firm PGNiG and LNG producing giant Qatargas. 
 PGNiG is in charge for all the supplies coming to the import terminal operated by Gaz-System’s unit Polskie LNG.
Poland has significantly increased LNG purchases via its terminal in Swinoujscie following PGNiG deals with Qatargas and US player Cheniere.
The move is a part of reducing the country’s decades-old reliance on Russian pipeline gas but also cutting dependence on coal."

Writes Offshore-Energy. You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Nord Stream 2: is the BNetzA about to jink to save the pipeline?

One should not interpret recent media reports to the effect that the Nord Stream 2 project is in peril, writes Alan Riley. The German energy regulator the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) it is reported may not grant Nord Stream 2 a derogation from EU energy liberalisation regime, contained in the gas directive 2009. Such a failure to obtain a derogation from the BNetzA, even if that is its final decision, is likely to prove far from fatal to Nord Stream 2.

"It is therefore possible that the entire focus on the derogation procedure over the last few months, and the media reports that the BNetzA does intend to adopt to grant a derogation to the pipeline is all part of a bait and switch operation. Emphasise over several months the prospect of a derogation being granted, at the last moment, pull the prospect of a derogation and instead take a decision that looks like compliance with EU law. In reality the new decision does not comply with Union law either but it is not a derogation decision. As a consequence although it also seeks to subvert Union law, it will not immediately bring down the full weight of the EU infringement procedure upon the BNetzA and the government in Berlin.

There are a number of options for Nord Stream 2 for something that looks like a measure that complies with EU law, but is really nothing of the sort. For example, last year before the discussion surrounding the derogation procedure took hold there was a discussion amongst advocates of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that one option would be to focus application of EU law solely to the ‘stub’ of the pipeline. The stub is the 55km of pipeline solely in German territorial waters. The stub argument is essentially that EU law only applies to the pipeline in EU territory, the rest of the pipeline remains free of Union law and can be owned and controlled by Gazprom.

The stub would be fully compliant with EU energy liberalisation law and in particular the EU’s gas directive. There would even be no need for an exemption as that part of the pipeline will be subject to ownership unbundling. The pipeline would be owned by a EU owner unconnected with Nord Stream 2 and Gazprom. It would comply with third party access rules. However, no one but Gazprom would be able to access the stub from international waters and it would set a transparent tariff regime but conscious it would have only one source of supply from Gazprom.

Such a ‘stub’ project would be a legal sham. There is only one single pipeline running from Russian Federation territory to German territory. It was designed, planned and route permits were obtained on the basis of it being one pipeline. The majority of the pipeline outside German and EU territorial waters has no purpose or value save in relation to the physical connection with that part of its pipeline within EU territory. One can legitimately apply the territoriality principle in allocating jurisdiction in public international law as a consequence of the pipeline’s fixed connection to infrastructure in EU territory permitting the full application of Union law to the pipeline.

However, from a PR perspective opting for the stub approach has the merit of being more easily able to defend in the media. It is much easier for the German authorities to present the application of EU law to the stub as reasonable application of Union law, than participate in what would amount to an overt breach of Union law, by granting an unwarranted derogation to Nord Stream 2.

Applying EU law to the stub would create a legal framework to the pipeline which can then be defended over the next few years through the EU’s judicial hierarchy. In parallel, the pipeline can be completed and can be functioning. The facts on the ground will have been put in place with the aim of then minimising any subsequent application of Union law to an already functioning pipeline."

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



Chinas's manoevering between iranian oil imports ans US sanctions

China has to tack between the need for crude and impeding US sanctions, The Diplomat:

"Chinese tankers are reported to have turned off their transponders, automatic identification systems, prompting warnings from U.S. officials. And reports surfaced not long after the sanctions waivers terminated that Iranian tankers were supplying China, sometimes also switching off their transponders. They are believed to engage in the practice while allegedly conducting ship-to-ship  (STS) transfers to China-bound vessels off the Malaysian coastBloomberg research revealed that STS deliveries had risen sharply in September, three times more than the previous month. Although the provenance of the oil was said to be unclear, the agency quoted an analyst suggesting it could be Iran or Venezuela.  
The scale of Beijing’s alleged clandestine supplies has yet to be determined, but given the reported marked increase in volume of disguised cargoes last year it might be receiving more than its declared imports. The U.S. has sought to deter China’s suspected sanctions evasion by targeting non-compliant companies and their officials. There have been a flurry of penalties since the American waivers ended. In September, two oil tanker subsidiaries of COSCO, a major Chinese shipping and logistics company, were blacklisted, and the action reportedly sent world freight costs to record highs and disrupted the global shipping market.  
The sanctioning of the shippers threatened to complicate U.S.-China trade negotiations. A “Phase One” deal was eventually achieved in January, and on the eve of the agreement it was reported that US officials were working behind the scenes with independent Chinese refiners to prevent purchases of Iranian crude. Just days after the breakthrough in the trade talks, Washington lifted sanctions against one of the COSCO subsidiaries. 
The aim of the move appears to have been twofold: easing the impact of the original black-listings; and retaining leverage over China’s oil trade with Iran. A senior Chinese official reportedly complained about the sanctioning of the COSCO units in the trade talks which, coupled with the steep drop in official Chinese imports of Iranian crude, suggests American penalties have real deterrence value, even if some degree of sanctions evasion continues."

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

Friday, May 22, 2020

EGC dismisses Nord Stream 2 actions against EU-gas-directive

The General Court of the European Union declares that the actions brought by Nord Stream AG and Nord Stream 2 AG against Directive 2019/692, which extends certain rules of the internal market in natural gas to pipelines from third countries, are inadmissible.

Those companys objected to provisions of the EU-gas-directive "that those operators have, inter alia, an obligation to unbundle transmission systems and transmission system operators and to introduce a system of non-discriminatory third-party access to gas transmission and distribution systems on the basis of published tariffs." 

"The General Court finds that they are not directly concerned by the amending directive. 
Indeed, it is only through the intermediary of the national measures transposing that directive that the Member States will adopt or have adopted that operators such as those who have brought the actions in question will be or are subject (under the conditions agreed on by those Member States) to obligations under Directive 2009/73, as amended. 
Regarding the national transposing measures which are intended, as from 24 February 2020, to make the obligations under Directive 2009/73, as amended, binding with regard to operators, the Member States have a margin of discretion. 
Moreover, according to the amending directive, the national regulatory authorities may, under certain conditions, decide to grant exemptions or derogations from certain provisions of Directive 2009/73, as amended, to major new gas infrastructure, on the one hand, and to gas transmission lines between the Member States and third countries completed before 23 May 2019, on the other. For the purposes of implementing those provisions, the national regulatory authorities have a wide discretion as regards the grant of such exemptions or derogations and any specific conditions to which those exemptions or derogations may be subject. 
Regarding Nord Stream AG, the General Court finds, in addition, that it is also not individually concerned by the amending directive. 
In that regard, the General Court notes, inter alia, that Nord Stream AG did not have a right to operate and/or continue to operate the Nord Stream dual pipeline system free from any regulatory constraints of the EU, at the very least as regards the part of that gas transmission line located in the territory of the EU, in this instance in the territorial sea of a Member State. 
Thus, the fact that, when the amending directive was adopted, Nord Stream AG was part of a limited, identified or identifiable, circle of operators concerned by the extension of the territorial and/or material scope of Directive 2009/73 does not permit a finding that it is individually concerned by the amending directive. Indeed, it is common ground that the amending directive is applied by virtue of objective criteria defined by the EU legislature, including the criterion requiring gas transmission lines in respect of which certain derogations have been requested to have been completed before 23 May 2019, the date on which the amending directive entered into force."

You can find the press release of the EGS via the below link: 

Nord Stream 2: the consequences of the BNetzA decision

What does the decision of the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur, abbr.: BNetzA) mean for Nord Stream 2? PISM outlines some answers:

"The decision has no impact on NS2’s construction but the application of the Gas Directive in its fullest extent poses a serious challenge to Gazprom’s management of the pipeline. Instead, an independent operator will be required to manage it and access to the NS2 for exporters other than Gazprom should be granted as well, otherwise, the European Commission might ask the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to limit Gazprom’s access to NS2’s total capacity. According to Russian law, Gazprom has a monopoly on gas exports via pipeline. The company is concerned that its competitors might take advantage of this situation and lobby for changes in the Russian legislation."

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

Los Angeles: plasma torches for hydrogen production

A Los Angeles based company plans the production of hydrogen using waste paper:

"An energy company with big ambitions to produce the clean fuel of the future announced a deal Tuesday with Lancaster officials to make hydrogen by using plasma heating technology — originally developed for NASA — to disintegrate the city’s paper recyclables at temperatures as high as 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Solena Group’s process has no commercial track record, and the company has not yet secured financing to build its $55-million facility in Lancaster, in northern Los Angeles County. Solena is one of many firms looking for ways to cheaply produce hydrogen without generating planet-warming gases in hopes that the clean-burning fuel will one day replace oil and gas for transportation or heating."

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

GIPL: will LNG flow to Lithuania from Poland?

Biznesalert writes:

"Lithuanian Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas suggested that LNG could reach Belarus and his country through Poland. He revealed that an analysis of the use of the Poland-Lithuania Gas Pipeline for this purpose is underway, and it will end in August this year.
– It should be emphasized that we have good cooperation in the entire energy sector between Poland and Lithuania. We have good cooperation in the construction of the Poland-Lithuania Gas Pipeline, we also have cooperation between PGNiG and Klaipedos Nafta at the transhipment station since April – the minister calculated."

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

Gazprom’s gas exports revenues down in Q1

According to : 

Natural gas exporting revenues of Russian gas giant Gazprom fell by 51.6% in the first quarter to $6.8 billion, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing customs data.
It also said that Gazprom’s average gas exporting price declined by 9% to $125 per 1,000 cubic metres in March from February.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

China buys up cheap oil in large amount reports:

"While the rest of the world is tentatively coming out of lockdowns, China is taking advantage of the cheapest crude oil in years to stock up as demand is starting to return in the world’s largest oil importer, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing tanker-tracking data it has compiled. At present, a total of 117 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – each capable of shipping 2 million barrels of oil – are traveling to China for unloading at its ports between the middle of May and the middle of August. If those supertankers transport standard-size crude oil cargoes, it could mean that China expects at least 230 million barrels of oil over the next three months, according to Bloomberg. The fleet en route to China could be the largest number of supertankers traveling to the world’s top oil importer at one time, ever, Bloomberg News’ Firat Kayakiran says.
Many of the crude oil cargoes are likely to have been bought in April, when prices were lower than the current price and when WTI Crude futures even dipped into negative territory for a day."

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