Oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, energy prices, electricity and climate issues. Scenarios, forecasts and analysis from Geopolitical Intelligence Services (GIS) experts on energy trends.
Kazakhstan: Russia’s staunchest ally wavers
Could the linchpin in Russia’s plan to reassert its control over former Soviet states be in danger of slipping away? Moscow fears it might. Kazakhstan has been making overtures to the U.S. and China, and chipping away at key cultural ties. For now, Astana cannot afford to break away from Russia’s orbit, especially in security matters, but an overreaction by the Kremlin could tip the balance.
The future of Ukraine’s energy transit status
With a key contract expiring next year, Ukraine’s role in transmitting Russian gas to Europe is uncertain. The planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline threatens to circumvent Ukraine, which has offered lowered gas transit rates to Gazprom if it scraps the new project and allows other exporters to pass through the country. Russia is uninterested in such a deal, but rising forecasts of European gas demand may mean that the Kremlin must continue to rely on Ukraine or find other options.
Opinion: The ‘military option’ in Venezuela is an illusion
The Chinese government is reportedly considering helping Venezuela’s government meet its most pressing domestic needs and start rebuilding the nation’s hydrocarbons industry. The United States, meanwhile, is hinting that it could use force to remove the increasingly brutal regime. Collective pressure on Caracas from the Latin American community, however, remains the only realistic way of resolving the crisis.
Regional integration at the Three Seas summit
With the third summit of the Three Seas Initiative, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are trying to come together on issues like energy and infrastructure. The effort comes after several failed attempts at regional integration in the 20th century, and this one remains mostly on paper. If the European Union and outside investors will buy into the idea, several proposed projects could help lift all boats.
OPEC’s next phase
OPEC has regained influence on the back of its cooperation with Russia. Some analysts suggest this partnership could be made more formal, for example by admitting Russia into the group, while others say doing so would make the organization even more unwieldy. Now, as OPEC continues to try to achieve “fair” and stable prices, it faces a new challenge: legislation in the U.S. could allow American officials to sue the organization for price fixing.
Turkey’s energy foreign policy at a crossroads
Energy cooperation between Turkey and Russia has ramped up in recent years. If it grows any closer, it could threaten EU interests, especially the key Southern Gas Corridor project. But Turkey's own interests are also at risk if its dependence on Russian gas supplies grows. The question is whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will prioritize diversification – and therefore cooperation with the EU and Azerbaijan – or placating his domestic political allies.
Uruguay’s uncommon strengths and development dilemmas
Uruguay scores perfect tens on civil liberties and the electoral process in the World Bank’s rule of law index – matching Norway and New Zealand, and far outstripping its larger Latin American neighbors. The country’s internal stability is buttressed by an ambitious social welfare system. However, that presents Uruguay’s leaders with a nasty problem: how to reinvent the economy to keep financing an expensive state.
GIS Dossier: Saudi Arabia’s transforming role
Over the past five years, Saudi Arabia has had to make some big adjustments, as geopolitical shifts have put it in a precarious position. After the oil price slump of 2014 and Iran’s rise to regional prominence in 2015, the kingdom made strategic changes both at home and abroad. It decided to make a stand against Iranian attempts to forge a Shia crescent and moved to diversify its economy. This dossier reviews our analysts’ predictions for how successful these moves will be.
Iran’s rapprochement with Azerbaijan opens dangerous dynamics
The relentless rise of Iran is also making itself felt in the South Caucasus, a region ridden by border conflicts and great-power rivalry. The inroad is Azerbaijan. The small but oil-rich Caspian Sea state with a border issue with a neighbor is being intensely courted by Tehran and Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Israel, too, cultivates its relations with Baku. Russia’s traditional policy in its backyard – divide and rule, and sell weapons to all – may backfire under such circumstances.
In fractured Libya, it’s about oil
As Libya’s civil war sputters on, the country’s principal source of revenue remains its oil fields. The feuding Tripoli and Tobruk governments have allowed the National Oil Corporation to keep managing operations, with the Central Bank of Libya apportioning revenue among the various factions. Now, a power struggle is disrupting the flow of oil and cash as General Khalifa Haftar squares off against Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord.