Loss of Ukrainian gas transit does increase the risk of military conflict. In October 2013, I came across an anonymous blogger’s note about Russia forming a separate air assault brigade to stop shale gas development in Eastern Ukraine . It was several months before the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 , and I dismissed the news as fake. However, after the start of combat activities in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, the note made a lot of sense. Coincidentally or not, the gas supply system of Gazprom was ready for the war in Ukraine. For many years Rostov-on-Don and two more provinces of Southern Russia were receiving gas through Eastern Ukraine. In 2007, Gazprom commissioned a bypassing pipeline enabling “to directly supply gas to Russian
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Last week deputies and members of the Energy Commission voted on the amendments to the Energy Act which launches the Balkan gas exchange, thus pushing the process of liberalization of the gas market. This belated action is due in part to the pressure from the European Commission as Bulgaria remains a blank spot on the EU gas market. The gas exchange and the trading platform are a key element in the overall concept of the Bulgarian gas hub, the crown jewel in the efforts of the Bulgarian government in the gas sphere over the recent years. The liberalization of the gas market is closely related to the existence of a trading platform and the goal of attracting sufficient gas liquidity for distribution through the “hub”. The
Let us state the publicly known facts and try to assess the business merits of the deal. Bit by bit, slowly and systematically, so that even non-experts can understand. We have a standing valid gas transit contract between Gazexport and Bulgartransgaz, using the current Trans-Balkan Pipeline, until 2030 with “secure” revenues of $ 1.2 billion. This is not the total contract amount, just the ‘ship or pay’ segment, accrued until the end of the contract. This is regardless of whether Gazprom decides to end transit through Ukraine, to take up alternative routes through Turkey, Germany or the North Pole. Cash in hand. Or almost. Giving up on these receivables is a condition sine qua non, set by Gazprom, if we want to enter into the new venture
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This is the key line Russian President Putin used at the plenary session of the International Arctic Forum, which was instantly relayed by all Russian media, mainly by TASS, Russia Today and Sputnik. There is nothing new in this vintage Russian propaganda, which is echoed by pro-Russian politicians in the EU – Russian gas is indispensable and the cheapest gas in the world, while US-sourced LNG is expensive and inferior in quality. EU budgets, he asserts further, will have to compensate European consumers for the price difference between US LNG and pipeline gas from Russia. Even if one sets aside the basic fact that the budgets of EU countries and that of the Russian state are profoundly different in structure, the EU legal and regulatory bases make it
My favorite Russian diplomat is Ambassador Chizhov. He tops my rankings as the most outspoken Russian diplomat on a range of hot topics in EU-Russia relations. He is entrusted by the Kremlin to challenge the EU on its home turf each and every time the European Council, the European Commission or the European Parliament passes a motion that affects Moscow’s interests. One clear mark of President Putin’s personal trust in him is the fact that Vladimir Chizhov is spending his record 14th year in office as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. He did not waste time in reassuring Russians and Russia’s friends and partners that the amendments to the EU Gas Directive passed by the European Parliament on April 4th, amending key regulations for gas pipelines
Bulgaria’s natural gas monopoly has finally announced in public its intent to buy natural gas in the second quarter of 2019 for its needs using an open and competitive procedure. This is the official narrative, at least what Bulgargaz is trying to sell to the public. The volumes are more than modest – 22 million cubic meters in April and 62 million cubic meters in May and June. That is nothing dramatic, yet the management and the government media use the opportunity to trumpet a major shift in Bulgaria’s longtime allegiance to Gazprom, as the country remains the sole SEE state with a near total dependence on Russian gas. The national gas company, Bulgargas, has long been accused of acting as a Gazprom proxy with Stockholm syndrome, refusing
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