Monday, December 28, 2020

Nord Stream 2: did german Federal Agency secretely grant permit for resumption of construction works?

 German newspaper BILD has learned from german association Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany) that the Bundesamt für Seeschiffahrt und Hydrographie (Federal Agency for maritime navigation and hydrography) has granted a permit to resume the halted construction of the contentious pipeline prior to concluding about objections made by the non-profit environmental association. Environmental Action Germany suspects foul play and claims that the Federal Agency is unter pressure by the german government that wants the pipeline completed by all means before sanctions of the incoming Biden administration become effective:

How far will German authorities go to comply with the wishes of Moscow and Berlin to realize the Putin pipeline Nord Stream 2 as quickly as possible?

So far, German authorities have always denied that they have been influenced in the approval process for the Russian prestige project by political actors and lobbyists of the Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream 2 AG. The approval process is being conducted in accordance with "law and order" and is "open-ended," according to the assurances.

Monday, December 14, 2020

EU: meeting between EU and Ukraine representatives on energy topics

 The EU press service reports:

Today, Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and Acting Energy Minister of Ukraine, Olha Buslavets, held a ministerial meeting, in the form of a video-conference, under the Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Energy Partnership between the EU and Ukraine.

Both sides endorsed the annual work plan for 2021 setting out actions for cooperation in all key areas, including a strong emphasis on the European Green Deal, cooperation on energy efficiency and renewable energy, nuclear safety, as well as a call to continue market reforms.

Recalling Ukraine’s ambition to approximate its policies and legislation with the European Green Deal, Commissioner Simson and Acting Minister Buslavets agreed on the common interest to engage on climate change and the clean energy transition, including pursuing ambitious environmental and climate objectives. The European Commission expressed  strong support for the decarbonisation of the Ukrainian energy sector, in particular through increased electrification, promotion of transparent and market-based use of renewable energy and decarbonised gases, including clean hydrogen, and energy efficiency measures. Cooperation on methane emissions was also addressed as a common area for action.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Iran supports Venezuela with fuel, gets crude in exchange

Bloomberg writes:

Iran is sending its biggest fleet yet of tankers to Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions to help the isolated nation weather a crippling fuel shortage, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Some of the flotilla of about 10 Iranian vessels will also help export Venezuelan crude after discharging fuel, the people said, asking not to be named because the transaction is not public.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Nord Stream 2: some more details about the construction progress

 German newspaper WELT has more details about the construction progress of the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline:

Although the US has increased its sanctions threats, Russia is now setting its retrofitted special ship on the march. It is to lay further pipes in German waters. In addition, a face-saving solution to the pipeline dispute is surprisingly emerging.

“Notice for Seafarers 46/20: Germany. Baltic Sea. Waters around Rügen, VTG Adlergrund, 2 underwater pipelines under construction. "

Anyone who wanted to get an idea of ​​the chances of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in the past few days had to rely on the dry statements of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV). The spokesmen for the ministries involved in the dispute at state and federal level were just as taciturn as those of the client, Gazprom. The political situation is particularly sensitive at the moment.

With the new sanctions law (PEESCA), the US Congress has just expanded its sanctions threats against European contractors for the pipeline project between Russia and Germany. Now insurers and other service providers also have to expect serious damage to their US business if they participate in pipe construction in the Baltic Sea.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Nord Stream 2: pipe-laying ship "Akademik Cherskiy" resumes construction work

The russian pipe-laying ship "Akademik Cherskiy", that replaces the vessel of shipping company "Allseas" that withdrew of fear for sanctions, has left the port of Kaliningrad to resume the last stretch of the pipeline. Meanwhile US lawmakers lace a package of sanction measures, writes german newspaper BILD:

Dramatic year-end spurt around the Putin Nordstream 2 pipeline!

In the geopolitically risky billion dollar game around the Baltic Sea pipeline Nordstream 2, the events in Moscow, Berlin and Washington, D.C.
Until new sanctions come into force on January 1st and a new US president is sworn in a few weeks later, all three countries want to create facts that are as robust as possible. According to BILD information, the federal government is once again playing with the wrong cards, and soon-to-be President Joe Biden could tip the scales.

On Thursday evening (December 3), Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom ordered the pipe-laying ship “Akademik Tscherski” to leave Kaliningrad Bay. The ship is currently heading for Germany's exclusive economic zone off the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The controversial pipe that was originally supposed to have been transporting Russian gas to Germany since the beginning of the year is to be continued there on Saturday.
But according to the responsible Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), the ship only has permission to lay a few of the 160 kilometers that are still missing - and only for three weeks. A BSH spokeswoman on Friday (December 4) to BILD: "The construction work in December (two 2.6 kilometers) with ships positioned at anchor is covered by the 2018 approval and the approval of the BSH from October 2020."

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

EU: a strategy to use pipelines for hydrogen

 Pan-European media network specialised in EU policies Euractiv reports about a recent EU strategy to include hydrogen into the energy pool. Question arises on whether hydrogen can be added to piped gas or if the gas pipelines need to be retrofitted or if even a completely independent pipeline system has to be constructed:

While natural gas pipelines can be used to carry hydrogen, the cost of retrofitting infrastructure combined with end-user requirements at the local level, will determine whether blended or pure hydrogen is delivered to the final consumer, industry experts say.

Clean hydrogen – the sort produced from renewables through electrolysis – is considered a central element of the decarbonised energy system envisioned by the European Commission.

Low-carbon gases such as hydrogen or biomethane can replace fossil fuels in hard-to-abate sectors of the economy such as the steel or chemical industry, shipping, aviation and heavy-duty road transport where electrification is currently not feasible or too expensive.

Scaling up the production and use of clean hydrogen has therefore become a political priority for the European Commission, which presented a dedicated hydrogen strategy in July.

And while hydrogen today is mostly produced close to where it is used, that might change in the future as both production volumes and transport distances look set to increase.

Pipelines, after all, “are the cheapest method of distribution where demand is large enough,” says an EU-funded study by consultancies Guidehouse and Tractabel Impact, which was published by the European Commission in July this year.

“A progressive uptake of hydrogen solutions can also lead to repurposing or re-using parts of the existing natural gas infrastructure, helping to avoid stranded assets in pipelines,” the Commission wrote in its hydrogen strategy.

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Shale: the nefarious effects of high-grading in 2020

 Goehring & Rozencjwag analyse the impact of high-grading in shale production over the last couple of years:

!To understand the relationship between drilling retrenchment, high-grading, productivity growth and production, consider an energy company that is forced to cut back its drilling activity in response to falling oil prices and reduced cash flows. It is logical to assume a company will stop drilling its least productive wells first. The remaining drilling activity becomes concentrated in the most productive areas and the average productivity rises. The larger the gap between a company’s least productive rig and its most productive rig, the more this phenomenon positively impacts average productivity and future production.


Between 2008 and 2019, we have experienced four periods of drilling retrenchment in the oil shales. During the 2009 slowdown, the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian lost 60% of their rigs. However, the difference between the most productive and least productive rig was so great that drilling productivity soared by 75% and total production from new drilling activity only fell by 35% -- much less than the fall in the rig count. In 2013, the three basins lost 15% of their rigs. Once again, the material difference between the most and least productive rig caused productivity to jump by 60%. Production from new drilling activity actually accelerated by 35%. In 2016, drilling activity declined by a massive 80% in the three basins. Productivity was able to skyrocket by 200% as companies were still able to lay down a large number of relatively unproductive rigs. Oil production from new drilling activity slowed by only 50%, again much less than the 80% drop in the rig count.


We used our neural network to shed some light on these periods of drilling retrenchment. We divided all of the drilling activity in the three plays into two tiers based upon acreage quality. According to our neural network, in 2009, 50% of all shale activity took place in Tier 1 areas. In 2013 and 2016 Tier 1 drilling still only represented 50% and 60% respectively. Today, that has changed dramatically. We believe that by 2019, Tier 1 activity approached 75% of all drilling. The following map shows the drilling activity on the Midland side of the Permian basin in 2013 and 2018. As you can see, operators have honed in on the best parts of the play and are hardly drilling the less productive areas at all. The same trend is true in the Bakken and Eagle Ford and we invite those that are interested to please reach out for similar drilling activity maps.

We also calculated the spread between the best wells and worst wells drilled during previous downturns. In 2013 we estimate the top half of all shale wells were 200% more productive as the bottom half. By 2019 this spread had collapsed to only 90% more productive. As rigs are laid down, our research tells us that the narrowing in drilling productivity will have a large impact on shale oil production growth. In previous drilling downturns, the E&P industry had the luxury of being able to lay down a significant number of relatively unproductive rigs. Years of high grading has taken this luxury away. Today, far fewer rigs are drilling unproductive wells compared to the downturns of 2009, 2013 and 2016 - a phenomenon clearly shown on the map above."

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

EU: UNO and EU institutions resolve measures against methane emissions

 European press service writes:

At the core of the effort is a comprehensive measurement-based methane-reporting framework that will make it easier for officials, investors and the public to accurately track and compare performance across companies in ways that have not been possible to this point.

As stipulated in the EU methane strategy, the European Commission is planning to elaborate a legislative proposal on compulsory measurement, reporting, and verification for all energy-related methane emissions, building on the OGMP 2.0 framework.  Crucially, the OGMP 2.0 includes not only a company’s own operations, but also the many joint ventures responsible for a substantial share of their production. 

The OGMP 2.0 framework applies to the full oil and gas value chain, not only upstream production, but also midstream transportation and downstream processing and refining – areas with substantial emissions potential that are often left out of reporting today. The goal is to enable the oil and gas industry to realize deep reductions in methane emissions over the next decade in a way that is transparent to civil society and governments. In order to support the realisation of global climate targets, OGMP 2.0 aims to deliver a 45 %  reduction in the industry’s methane emissions by 2025, and a 60-75 % reduction by 2030.

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

Nord Stream 2: local prime minister creates foundation to bypass US-sanctions

 Staunch supporter of the infamous pipeline Nord Stream 2, prime minister of the land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Manuela Schwesig, does her utmost to complete the pipeline while avoiding US-sanctions on german companies involved in the project. A foundation was created that acts as a target of the sanctions and leaves the companies involved unharmed, writes german newspaper BILD.

Can a German cheat foundation save Russia's prestige project “Nord Stream 2” at the last second?

According to BILD information, the State Chancellery of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, headed by Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (46, SPD), is working quickly on a tool to circumvent existing US sanctions against the Gazprom project “Nord Stream 2” that will be added from January.

For this purpose, a “Stiftung Klimaschutz MV” is to be established in the next few days. A ruse, because, according to BILD information, the alleged climate foundation should shortly afterwards identify the almost finished Russian pipe as the "most important component for environmental protection in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania" and then do everything in its power to contribute to the completion of the project.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Middle East Oil Producers Under Pressure

Arab Gulf oil producers are losing billions of U.S. dollars from oil revenues this year due to the pandemic that crippled oil demand and oil prices. Because of predominantly oil-dependent government incomes, budget deficits across the region are soaring.  

Middle East’s oil exporters rushed to raise taxes and cut spending earlier this year, but these measures were insufficient to contain the damage.

The major oil producers in the Gulf then rushed to raise debt via sovereign and corporate debt issuance. Bond issues in the region have already hit US$100 billion, exceeding the previous record amount of bonds issued in 2019.

Thanks to low-interest rates and high appetite from investors, the petrostates are binging on debt raising to try to fill the widening gaps in their balance sheets that oil prices well below their fiscal break-evens leave.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2020

EU: work on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations directive moves on

EU press service reports on the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Directive:

There are clear indications that the aims of the Directive on the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations [2013/30/EC] have been met thanks to its transposition by EU Member States, according to the Commission’s report, published today, on the assessment of the directive. Member States and industry are closely following requirements, it concludes, although with some differences of interpretation. Most of the open issues can be handled under existing work and communication channels with Member States’ authorities and stakeholders, and specifically through the European Union Offshore Authorities Group (EUOAG).

Member States and industry have largely welcomed the introduction of the Directive in its current scope, the report states, while environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are more nuanced in their assessment, calling for further tightening of some measures. All stakeholders point to the depth and intensity of the changes brought about and say that more time and monitoring is required before considering legislative changes. 

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

US: Biden administration determined to prevent Nord Stream 2

 US president elect Joe Biden has made clear that he will not allow the completion of the pipeline, announces new sanctions on involved companies in January 2021, write Bloomberg:

The U.S. is drawing up additional sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, the latest obstacle in the path of the 9.5 billion-euro ($11.2 billion) Russia-to-Germany link that’s been halted almost a year.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to target insurers and technical certification companies working on the project in a defense bill that must pass by the end of the year, according to three people familiar with the matter. The move would add to penalties that stopped work on the natural gas link under the Baltic Sea just a few weeks before it was to be completed.

The rules could inflame tensions between the U.S. and Chancellor Angela Merkel over the project, which would bring gas into northern Germany and help Russia’s state-backed exporter Gazprom PJSC tighten its grip on energy supplies to the region. President Donald Trump, backed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, have criticized Europe’s reliance on Russia and offered U.S. cargoes of liquefied natural gas as an alternative.

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


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Lomborg : german politicians are fooling themselves about the efficacy of renewables

 Another scathing account of Dane Björn Lomborg with Germany's energy policy. In an article for germany newspaper WELT he works out that Germany's measures to reduce CO2 are mostly ill-considered, useless, expensive and moreover strain emerging economies:

In a rational world, climate policy would be about finding the most cost-effective policy for the very real problem of global warming. But in the real world, many climate policy measures seem to be more about making us feel morally superior than using scarce resources effectively to have a noticeable impact.

Every spring, the lighting at the Brandenburg Gate, as well as on millions of buildings around the world - including the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building - is switched off for an hour under the campaign name "Earth Hour". The idea behind it is to jointly set an example for climate protection. But if you get people to turn off the lights for an hour, it doesn't have a noticeable effect on the climate. And if people light a few candles instead, that actually increases the net emissions.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mediterranean: when exploration of gas fields hurtles with hegemonic ambitions

 The projected EastMed pipeline which is scheduled for construction start in 2023 is jeopardised by expansionist aspirations of Turkey. Israel has ordered four stealth capable corvettes at a german shipyard. The first one has just been delivered. Some observers draw parallels to arm races in the wake of WW1 writes german newspaper WELT:

Israel's security is German reasons of state - Angela Merkel's confession to the Knesset is probably the most frequently quoted sentence by a German head of government in Israel. Now Germany's responsibility for the Jewish state is to become visible: On November 11, the Kiel-built warship “INS Magen” (Hebrew for protective shield) will be handed over to the Israeli Navy.

It is the first of four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes that the Israeli government has ordered from ThyssenKrupp. According to the Ministry of Defense, the federal government is financing around a third of the project with 115 million euros.

Nuclear phase-out: Germany's constitutional court reprimands Parliament for poor compensation regulation

   The hasty decision of nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima nuclear incident reguires a financial compensation for the plant operators. However the bills passed so far are so poorly drafted that they could not become effective. The german constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) severely blamed lawmakers for their faulty work, writes german newspaper WELT:

The financial compensation for certain power plant operators due to the accelerated nuclear phase-out after the reactor disaster in Fukushima has to be completely reorganized again. The 2018 amendment to the law was inadequate and also never came into force due to formal deficiencies, the Federal Constitutional Court decided after a lawsuit by the energy company Vattenfall. The legislature is “still obliged to implement new regulations as soon as possible”, as the highest German court in Karlsruhe announced on Thursday. (Az. 1 BvR 1550/19)

Because of the reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan, the federal government withdrew an extension of the service life of the 17 German nuclear power plants that had been decided just a few months earlier. By the end of 2022 at the latest, all reactors must be taken off the grid on fixed dates. Then the end of nuclear power.

In 2016, following lawsuits from Eon, RWE and Vattenfall, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the amendment to the law that sealed this turnaround was essentially compatible with the Basic Law. The energy companies are entitled to adequate compensation for investments that have become pointless and forfeited production rights.

Vattenfall, among others, benefits from this. Due to the fixed shutdown dates set in 2011, the Swedish group no longer had the opportunity to internally produce electricity volumes originally allocated to its two German power plants, Krümmel and Brunsbüttel. For this, the group should be able to demand a compensation payment in the millions in 2023. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, the exact amount will only then be able to be determined.

However, the legal regulations for this are in parts "unreasonable", as stated in the Karlsruhe decision. In addition, the entry into force was made dependent on the approval of the EU Commission. However, this was never formally issued.

Because of the nuclear phase-out, Vattenfall is also pending a lawsuit at the World Bank's International Court of Arbitration (ICSID) in Washington. This involves claims of several billion euros due to the permanent shutdown of Krümmel and Brunsbüttel.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Germany: Uniper stops construction of FSRU Wilhelmshaven

Concerns about a sufficient workload of the planned FSRU confirmed by the paucity of prospective clients willing to book capacities le to the decision to put the project on hold, meanwhile the building works to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been resumed, writes german newspaper WELT:

Politicians are often sales geniuses, and this is particularly true of the incumbent US President: Donald Trump once advertised American natural gas on the world market as "Freedom Gas". The fuel extracted with the controversial "fracking" method should help to free the countries of the world from the dependence on Russian oil and gas monopolists.

The oil and gas business has always been highly politicized and is still at the center of geostrategic planning by the great powers. It was probably not due to purely economic considerations that Germany started building three liquefied gas ports on the North Sea coast a few years ago.

Frozen liquid gas, also known as LNG, delivered by tanker was intended to limit the market power of the main European supplier, Russia, in natural gas. The EU Commission also considered this to be sensible.

Danish author: The myths of renewable energies

 Danish author Björn Lomborg of think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center considers renewable energies an eyewash. Neither are they low in price nor do they contribute to halt the climate change. He develops some interesting arguments in german newspaper WELT:

Are Renewable Energies Competitive? We hear constantly that wind and solar energy are conquering the world. They are free and - we are told - cheaper than fossil fuels. But why is Germany spending 18 billion euros this year on subsidizing solar and wind energy? In the current discussion about renewable energy, a little is actually true and a lot is misleading.

Technically speaking, it's true that an extra kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by the cheapest and most effective new wind and solar systems is cheaper than fossil fuels. In Germany, according to the Fraunhofer Institute, these best-case technologies generate an average of one kilowatt hour of electricity for 5.2 cents for solar and 6.1 cents for wind energy. Compared to the average price of a new lignite power station that produces a kilowatt hour for 6.3 cents, it seems absolutely logical to build more and more wind and solar systems.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Nord Stream 2: Ukraine caucus wants to ensure sanctions

 RFERL writes:

Members of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus are concerned a U.S. bill to expand sanctions on a Russian natural-gas pipeline to Europe could be dropped from the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The bill, known as the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA), would widen the scope of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany to include any individual or entity providing insurance or welding services for the project.

PEESCA has been included in the NDAA defense spending bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year with slight variations. The Senate bill would also sanction any company that provides testing or inspection services for the pipeline. Congress is currently reconciling differences between the Senate and House versions of the NDAA and could be finalized in the coming days.

Members of the Ukraine Caucus have written to congressional leaders to urge them to “include language” in the final version of the NDAA that clarifies the new sanctions, indicating they are concerned PEESCA could be taken out or watered down despite bipartisan support for the bill, according to a letter obtained by RFE/RL.

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

Poland: another blow against Nord Stream 2

The polish office for competition and consumer protection (UOKiK) has inflicted financial penalties of more than 6 bn EUR on Gazprom and other companies involved in the pipeline construction; polish government hopes that to end the controversed project, writes german newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ):

After the attempted murder of Kremlin critic Alexej Nawalny and a decision by its anti-monopoly authorities, Poland is hoping for an end to the controversial Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2. A construction freeze is apparently possible, said Poland's Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau on Polish radio. Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, had previously also called for an immediate construction stop.

Poland has long been campaigning for a complete shutdown of Nord Stream 2, the 93 percent completion of which is being financed by Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, the German companies Wintershall and Uniper, the Austrian OMV, the French Engie and the British-Dutch Shell. After the assassination attempt on Navalny with a neurotoxin by the Novichok group, "a key moment has come when we should all say that it makes no sense to pursue a project like Nord Stream 2 with Russia," said Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to the EU Summit last week for an end to the Baltic Sea pipeline.

In addition to the political rejection by Warsaw, there are now possible billions in fines for Gazprom and millions in fines for its western partners - and probably years of disputes before Warsaw and European courts. On October 6, Poland's anti-monopoly authority UOKiK imposed a fine of almost 6.48 billion euros on Gazprom for alleged violations of Poland's anti-monopoly laws. Engie is to pay 12.4 million euros, Uniper 6.67 million, Wintershall 6.87 million, Shell 6.74 million and OMV 19.6 million. Gazprom and several partners have already announced lawsuits against the decision - it can take years to reach a decision.

The background to the UOKiK decision is a request from Gazprom and the five western partners in 2015: At that time, the companies asked Poland's anti-monopoly authority for approval of a planned joint venture for Nord Stream 2, in which Gazprom will hold half and the five western companies each hold ten percent should hold. According to UOKiK, Gazprom and its partners have recognized Polish jurisdiction and EU law.

But in 2016 the then UOKiK boss announced concerns about the planned joint venture: Nord Stream 2 would reduce competition on the gas market and increase Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas. As a result, the Russian monopoly and its partners withdrew the application in Warsaw in August 2016 - and in 2017 only signed two contracts for the joint financing of Nord Stream 2. However, according to today's UOKiK boss Tomasz Chróstny, these contracts constitute a de facto joint venture without If it had only been a question of financing, Gazprom could have borrowed the billions required for the construction of Nord Stream 2 (total cost: estimated 9.5 billion euros) from banks or the Russian government. The penalties now imposed, each corresponding to a tenth of the annual turnover, are the maximum possible penalty under Polish law. In addition, the companies should terminate their agreements within 30 days.

Gazprom said the Warsaw decision "violates the principles of legality, proportionality and fair trial" and announced a lawsuit; Shell did the same. The Warsaw Anti-Monopoly Court is initially responsible. Should Gazprom and its partners lose there and in an appeal, they should go to the EU Court of Justice. Kremlin spokesman Dmitrij Peskow said of the Warsaw decision that Russian-Polish relations were "not flourishing" anyway. One could therefore not assume that anything would have a negative effect on them.

Monday, October 12, 2020

EU quarterly energy report: impact of Covid-19 on electricity and gas market still considerable

 The EU released the energy report for the second quarter of 2020. Here are the figures of the Covid-19 impact:

"The widespread lockdown measures across much of Europe earlier this year had an unprecedented impact on the EU energy market, causing gas and electricity consumption to fall by 10% and 11% respectively in the second quarter, according to the Commission’s quarterly reports on gas and electricity markets which have just been published. Comparison with the second quarter of 2019 also shows the deep impact across the whole of the economy – with a 14% fall in GDP. At the same time, lower consumption and rise in solar generation contributed to renewables taking a 43% share of the EU power mix in Q2 2020, a new quarterly record – and highlighting again the exceptional impact of the crisis.  

The electricity market report shows that electricity consumption dropped by 11% in the EU27 compared to Q2 2019. Wholesale power prices decreased by 30-50% and reached levels not seen in more than a decade. Fossil fuels were the main losers from this demand shock and this coincided with a surge in solar generation – to the extent that solar energy accounted for 9% of the EU27 power mix.2


The gas market report is also dominated by the direct and indirect impact of the covid pandemic. The collapse in demand linked to the suspension of so many economic activities led to a decrease in gas consumption of 10% in the EU in Q2 2020. In some Member States, gas consumption was down by 20-30% in April relative to the same period in 2019.

Demand for natural gas was subdued not only in industry, but in power generation as well, as the abundance of renewables did not favour gas, even amid steeply falling gas prices: wholesale prices fell by 50-60% in year-on-year comparison. By the end of May, the TTF spot gas price fell to record lows (3.5€/MWh), slowly rebounding in June 2020 amid easing of the Covid-19 related lockdown measures.

In the context of low demand for gas in the EU, wholesale gas prices on some hubs fell below their US peers in May, resulting in the cancellation of some LNG shipments. Retail prices for an average industrial customer fell by 11% in Q2 2020 year-on-year and household customers also enjoyed lower prices in the majority of the EU capital cities."

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

Friday, September 25, 2020

Nord Stream 2: german secretary of commerce against termination of pipeline project after Navalny poisoning

 German federal secretary of commerce Peter Altmaier rejects the abortion of the contentious pipeline project after the poisoning of russian opposion politician Alexei Navalny, even though the german government came to the conclusion that Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent "Novitchok", writes Bild:

"It's been five weeks since the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny (44) was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group in Tomsk, Siberia. The incident has created great tension between Germany and Russia.
But Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (62, DU) is now rejecting the calls for a construction stop on the Russian pipeline "Nord Stream 2". It is problematic "to question projects that are designed for several decades every few months," he told the "Handelsblatt".
Altmaier accused critics of the project of inconsistency: They avoided saying "what a stop for Nord Stream 2 will mean for gas procurement from Russia as a whole". You would have to ask yourself “where will the gas come from in the future”. It can be assumed "that the gas quantities that Europe has to import will increase".
Altmaier rejected the accusation of being too dependent on Russian gas supplies. He always took the view that "we shouldn't be blackmailed," he said.
That should not mean, however, "that the attempted murder of Navalny can be put into perspective in any way." The gas is not only intended for Germany, but for many countries in the EU, so you have to consult with your partners about possible consequences.
After investigations in a special laboratory, the federal government regards it as unequivocally proven that the opposition member Navalny in Russia was poisoned with the warfare agent Novichok.
The economy minister warned against imposing sanctions. They often work not only against the countries against which they are pronounced, but also affect the business relationships of German and European companies.
"A country with our foreign trade ties must ask itself what effects sanctions can have and to what extent they primarily weaken themselves," said the Minister for Economic Affairs."

Nord Stream 2: east german prime minister is Putin's most outspoken support for Nord Stream 2

 Manuela Schwesig prime minister of the Land Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania is Putin's mouthpiece when it comes to defend the contentious pipeline project Nord Stream 2 against sanctions and critics, writes Bild. She is member of the social-democratic party SPD just like former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is chairman of the board of directors of Nord Stream 2.

"The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is THE project close to the heart of Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin. And whenever there is criticism of the project in Germany, he can be sure of the support of a politician: Manuela Schwesig (46, SPD).
The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is an ardent advocate of the pipeline, which hits German soil in her state and with which Putin rakes in his gas billions.
Putin's most ardent comrade is Schwesig!
In the Bundestag on Friday, Schwesig claimed that Nord Stream 2 was “not just a Russian project”. A week ago she even claimed: “The Baltic Sea Pipeline is NOT a Russian project.” Wrong! Nord Stream 2 AG, which operates the pipeline alone, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state gas company Gazprom.
Second lobby success for Putin on Friday: The heads of government of the eastern German federal states agreed on a resolution in which “the completion of the Baltic Sea pipeline continues to be sensible and correct”. DESPITE the poison attack on Russian oppositionist Alexej Navalny (44).
Amazing: That is the defused version, in the original Schwesig draft it was said that the Navalny case “must not be misused for domestic political tactics”, that the US government's threat of sanctions against the Russian pipe should be “strongly condemned and rejected " will.
THAT went too far even for the five other East Prime Ministers, the paper was defused.
Surprised? No! Since the beginning of the pipeline project, the Kremlin around Schwesig and her predecessor Erwin Sellering (70, SPD) has created a dense network of lobbyists. The state benefits economically, the pipeline construction creates jobs and investments.
Schwesig repeatedly meets Gerhard Schröder (76), Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nord Stream 2
Schwesig repeatedly meets Gerhard Schröder (76), Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nord Stream 2
Since 2002, the partner region of Meck.-Pomm has been the Leningrad region, in which Russia's state gas giant Gazprom has its headquarters. Since 2014, the state has held the "Russia Day" every two years, at which Russian politicians and oligarchs bluntly call on German companies to put pressure on politicians to dismantle the sanctions against Putin's regime.
With success! Manuela Schwesig is for an end to the punitive measures and against any new sanctions. Crimea annexation, Ukraine war and Navalny poisoning or not. In 2019, the state parliament in Schwerin, dominated by Schwesig's SPD, then launched a "German-Russian partnership agreement" between Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Russia, which has not yet been signed due to Corona.
The Green Bundestag member Claudia Müller (39) from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said to BILD, "instead of acting in the interests of their own federal state," Schwesig put himself at the service of a Russian company based in Switzerland ". In addition, Müller said, who accused Schwesig during her speech that she would “harm our state”, that Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Prime Minister had revealed in her speech to the Bundestag “how little she believes in the implementation of the energy transition”.
As vehemently as Schwesig advocates the expansion of Nord Stream 2 without fully exploiting the possibilities of renewable energies, it is damaging "the economic development of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania"."

Monday, September 21, 2020

Nord Stream 2: open letter in Newsweek to stop the pipeline

 Several personalities of the diplomatic milieu urge decisiomakers in Europe in an open letter published in Newsweek to use the Navalny poisoning as an opportunity to stop the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline:

"We are a group of acting and former diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and experts who have dedicated our careers to supporting Transatlantic security. We hail from countries on both sides of the Atlantic and represent a wide spectrum of political parties from our nations of origin. 

Over the past decade, the Government of the Russian Federation has engaged in a litany of malign activities aimed at upending liberal democratic norms across Europe and North America. The shocking poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by a variant of the weapons-grade nerve agent Novichok shows that Moscow has not been deterred by Western actions and statements and refuses to reverse its destabilizing political adventurism at home and abroad. And at the crucial moment of the ongoing demonstrations in Belarus for free and fair elections, Western values must be held up high. 

In light of this latest malign action, which we believe can only have been carried out or sanctioned by the Kremlin, we are calling on the European Commission, and the Governments of all European Union Member States, as well as the United States, Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to take immediate action to stop the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline."

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


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."