Opinion: The overhauled but directionless Franco-German tandem
When French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed a new Franco-German treaty in Charlemagne’s old imperial capital of Aachen earlier this year, the outcome was underwhelming. The ambitious goals that were set also seem entirely unrealistic, given the countries’ increasing divergence on policy. That means fears of a dominant Franco-German tandem in the EU are unfounded, but so are hopes that it will lead the bloc out of its current doldrums.
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.
The many faces of Rosneft
Over the past decade or so, Russian oil giant Rosneft has concluded some eye-popping deals and more than doubled production. But its rapid growth has been based on questionable deals and huge debts. Behind the scenes, its CEO, Igor Sechin, has mastered Kremlin power plays. But his circle of enemies is growing. The future of Russia’s oil industry will hinge on how far he continues to push the envelope and whether Rosneft can overcome the legacy he has built.
Another twist in the Gazprom saga
Until recently, the EU deliberately shielded its gas business with Russia from the disruption caused by turbulent East-West politics. Now a new round of anti-Kremlin sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress and the shale gas revolution threaten to upset the complicated energy relationship.
The myth of cheap Russian gas
As arguments swirl over the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, one thing is taken for granted – Gazprom can sell gas cheaper than rival suppliers. But reserves of low-cost gas from Russia’s West Siberian fields are dwindling, while output from the new Yamal fields must be heavily subsidized to offset high production and transport costs. The European Union could be entering an era when U.S. LNG is fully cost competitive or even cheaper than Russian gas, if it doesn’t let Russia distort the market.
Rising U.S. LNG exports could lead to European gas price war
The glut of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the global market is growing as exports from the United States increase and demand from Asia wanes. These trends are fueling competition in regional gas markets, and none is as hotly contested as Europe. The geopolitical implications of such trends could be far-reaching.
Turkey-Russia conflict has implications for the South Caucasus
When Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November, the ensuing conflict between the two countries had ripple effects in the South Caucasus and beyond. Turkey made a strong statement of its readiness to defend its interests in a turbulent neighborhood, reinforcing its status as a regional power to be reckoned with. Reactions to the incident on both sides plainly ...
Caspian states jockey for position over its status as sea or lake
The region around the Caspian Sea plays a role in many of the world’s most daunting challenges. From the rise of Islamic extremism to Russia’s resurgence to Iran’s renewed assertiveness, the largest enclosed body of water on earth figures in the problems’ address book. It is rich in natural resources and sandwiched between two of the globe’s most energy hungry mark...
Poland takes steps to limit its dependence on natural gas from Russia but misses out on shale gas
As a historical legacy, Poland and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe are heavily dependent on natural gas supplied by the Russian energy monopoly Gazprom. This reliance on a single supplier carries a geopolitical risk and, indeed, the region has experienced politically motivated gas supply disruptions in recent years. The spectre of energy insecurity has ri...