Growing energy rivalry in the region – a catalyst for development or geopolitical crisis? The first gas exploration of American oil leader -Exxon Mobil in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus, officially announced on Friday (November 16th), has also set a new stage in the energy and political development of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Although far from real results – finding /or not/ of hydrocarbon deposits, the launch of the American company has already managed to restore the usual “hot spot” status of the region, putting an end to the short quiet interval, when in February Turkish warships forced the platform of the Italian company Eni to leave the offshore zone of Cyprus. Exxon Mobil explorations have already changed the dynamics of the geopolitical scene
Bulgartransgaz has recently been informed by its largest customer, Gazexport, that after 2020 it will terminate the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, and thereby, through the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. It is still unclear whether the notification qualifies under contractual terms as legal notice served, requiring a new contract for any further arrangement, or whether it should be interpreted as advance notice for a shift of delivery point, with future gas deliveries coming via the Turkish Stream-2 pipeline. As for the quantities for use in Bulgaria itself, Bulgargas would not have a major problem, provided it can add additional delivery points in Slovakia and elsewhere. In total, the transited annual volumes over the last 12 years have varied around 16-17 billion cubic
The article first published in americanthinker.com on 11/02/2018. For more than two and a half centuries, human kind has lived under an irreconcilable dichotomy – the benevolent revolution we call the enlightenment, and the inevitable reactionary counter-revolution that followed it – a dichotomy that has continued to our days. The enlightenment introduced a number of revolutionary concepts that demolished the church dogma that had dominated the Middle Ages. It established reason and empirical knowledge as the source of authority leading to the scientific revolution beginning with Copernicus and the heliocentric theory of the universe. In government, the enlightenment brought about the radical idea of individual liberty with John Locke’s call for “life, liberty and property.“ The revolution reached its apotheosis in the late 18th century with the American Constitution and its
The news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has bent under Trump’s pressure, deciding to spend government funds on the construction of the first German terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas, has traversed the newswire of most international news agencies. Interpretations of Merkel’s move have framed it as an attempt to avoid Washington’s sanctions against Nord Stream-2. Geostrategic bargains are part of Merkel’s move, but possibly not the core truth behind it. The fact of the matter is that it is odd for the largest EU economy and largest gas consumer in the EU not to have access via import terminals to the global LNG market. In the face of growing dependence on Russian pipeline gas, this self-imposed restraint can hardly constitute a sensible policy.
The speculative interpretations on the secretive nature of the trip of Gazexport’s top managers to Sofia last Friday, beyond doubt, will build up due to the total absence of facts and details. This is an inevitable consequence as one compares the media frenzy around the visits of the top brass at Gazprom to the country on previous occasions. To begin with, the decision to keep the meetings with Bulgartransgaz secretive reflects the content and the range of topics covered. The classic is: both sides need to agree to keep the exchange out of the public record. Gazprom and BTG, as hosts, have no interest in disclosing details, as the negotiations cover a very sensitive topic – the extension of Turkish Stream through Bulgaria. Two events have marred the
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“We now need to start the construction of this pipeline in the Black Sea, but we cannot do that until we have Bulgaria’s permission”, said Vladimir Putin on December 1, 2014. “I think it’s clear to everyone that it would be ridiculous to start the construction in the sea, reach the Bulgarian shore and stop. So we are forced to reconsider our participation in this project”, continued president of Russia. It is worth noting that uncertainty about the point of entry has not stopped Mr. Putin from launching the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline. “There are still several questions we need to coordinate: the entry point, the route on Turkish territory and environmental security”, he said to president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the phone from
Some time ago, I was approached by an established Bulgarian journalist who was trying to broker an interview with a Russian TV crew, ostensibly working for the international program of Rossiya 24 – one of the main Kremlin channels. Having rich, including negative experience with Russian journalists, who often creatively edit recorded content – blending unrelated parts so that the interviewee could easily appear as a retard – or just dump the interview altogether, I refused initially. The last time, a TV crew from Moscow’s city channel, TVTZ, came over to shoot a propaganda slot, portraying Bulgaria as a totally devastated country after it joined the EU and NATO. These crude propaganda shots are meant for home use, aimed at convincing the Russian audience that the former brethren
The Russian government can do little to undermine the competitiveness of alternative supplies along the Southern Gas Corridor. Moreover, the suppliers’ list is rapidly expanding with new gas fields in the Azeri offshore of the Caspian (Absheron and Shah Deniz 3), Turkmenistan (swaps already under way via Iran with Azerbaijan), Iran, Northern Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean. All this clearly alludes to the feasibility of alternative gas exports via Greece and Bulgaria to the rest of the EU. Gazprom’s nightmares are just starting to mature as soaring production and transportation costs within Russia do not leave much room for further cost-cutting. Militarizing the Caspian Sea To block the development and export of Caspian gas, including via the Trans-Caspian pipeline, Moscow decided to relocate its flotilla from Astrakhan
Shortly after President Aliev inaugurated the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor and announced the opening of the TANAP pipeline on June 12th, Russia beefed up its wartime machine to block competition to its gas supplies in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. The timing of the agreement between the Turkish government and Gazprom on the onshore segment of Turkish Stream matched to the day the news from Azerbaijan. Ostensibly, this a legitimate defense of Gazprom’s market shares, having already lost substantial chunks in the diversified market of Turkey and Greece – where it accounts for 50-60% of the gas imports. When the periscope moves on to Bulgaria – the bounty is a complete and seemingly durable monopoly. Yet, even in this small market, the Russian state company has