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Pipeline diplomacy - Jan 20

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Israel cuts off Gaza's electricity

Jim Teeple, Voice of America (VOA)
UN Condemns Israel's Tightening of Sanctions on Gaza
The only electrical plant the Gaza Strip began shutting down today because Israel has blocked its fuel shipment.

A UN agency and human rights groups condemned Israel, but Tel Aviv said Palestinian militant groups that fire rockets at southern Israel every day are to blame.

Israel sealed all crossings into Gaza last week because of am upsurge in rocket attacks.

Several weeks ago Israel reduced the fuel supply as a pressure tactic. In addition to the fuel it receives from Israel to power its electrical plant, Gaza gets about two-thirds of its electricity directly from Israel.
(20 January 2008)
Related at Common Dreams: Little Gauze, Gas in Gaza as Israel Tightens Closure on Palestinians.

Pipeline Cements Russia’s Hold on Europe’s Gas Supply

Matthew Brunwasser and Judy Dempsey, New York Times
Russia strengthened its grip on Europe’s energy supplies on Friday as it signed a major gas deal with Bulgaria that analysts said would further undermine the European Union’s attempts to diversify its energy sources.

Under the agreement, the $15 billion South Stream pipeline will be built under the Black Sea, allowing Russia to send natural gas directly to Europe through Bulgaria and bypassing Turkey, which has been a crucial transit route for Russia’s gas exports to European markets.

...Russia has an almost complete monopoly over Bulgaria’s energy market, said Ognyan Minchev, director of the Bulgarian office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“The E.U., shockingly, acts like a naïve bystander, completely blind to the major strategic reconfiguration that is taking place in the Balkans,” Mr. Minchev said.
(19 January 2008)

Why Russia is Winning the Pipeline War

Steve LeVine, The Oil and the Glory
Vladimir Putin.

That's how Russia today made another advance in one of the most important battles under way anywhere in the world at the intersection of commerce and geopolitics -- for control of the natural gas market between Central Asia and Europe. This battle will decide who dominates the European energy market, and obtains commensurate political leverage in Europe and Central Asia. Russia already supplies more than 30% of Europe's natural gas and oil.

In another example of the role of personal diplomacy in the battle, Putin was in Sofia today and signed a deal nailing down Bulgaria's role as the principal transit point for the South Stream natural gas pipeline, which is meant to cement Russia's dominance of southern Europe's gas supply.
(18 January 2008)

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