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Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine

Naomi Klein, The Guardian
From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain – what I call the shock doctrine.

The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.

According to Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman who introduced the House bill, "opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies". And that might be true – as long as your friends and allies work at Chevron and Shell, and the emergency is the need to keep profits up amid dwindling supplies of conventional oil and gas.

For this ploy to work, it's important not to look too closely at details. Like the fact that much of the gas probably won't make it to Europe – because what the bills allow is for gas to be sold on the world market to any country belonging to the World Trade Organisation...

And most of all, it's important not to notice that building the infrastructure necessary to export gas on this scale would take many years in permitting and construction – a single LNG terminal can carry a $7bn price tag, must be fed by a massive, interlocking web of pipelines and compressor stations, and requires its own power plant just to generate energy sufficient to liquefy the gas through super-cooling. By the time these massive industrial projects are up and running, Germany and Russia may well be fast friends. But by then few will remember that the crisis in Crimea was the excuse seized upon by the gas industry to make its longstanding export dreams come true, regardless of the consequences to the communities getting fracked or to the planet getting cooked...
(10 April 2014)


Putin tells Europe Ukraine gas debt 'critical', transit threatened

BBC
President Putin has written to 18 European countries, warning that Ukraine’s debt crisis has reached a “critical” level and could threaten transit to Europe. He also called for urgent cooperation, blaming Russia’s partners for a lack of action.

Among the countries who’ll receive the letter are major consumers of Russian gas such as Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland and Romania.

Given the accumulated $2.2 billion gas debt owed by Ukraine’s Naftogas, Russia’s Gazprom will be forced to ask Ukraine for advance payments, Putin said in his letter to European partners, referring to the 2009 gas contract signed between Moscow and Kiev....
(10 April 2014)


Cheniere cheif plays down US gas claims

Financial Times
“The head of Cheniere Energy, which is due to become the US’s first new natural gas exporter next year, said the ability of US energy to save Europe from its dependence on Russian supplies had been overstated.”...

But he said US exports could still make a “significant difference” and that the prospect of them was helping Europe’s gas buyers by giving them more bargaining power with existing suppliers...
(10 April 2014)


The Absurdity of US Natural Gas Exports

Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
Quiz:

1. How much natural gas is the United States currently extracting?

(a) Barely enough to meet its own needs
(b) Enough to allow lots of exports
(c) Enough to allow a bit of exports
(d) The United States is a natural gas importer

Answer: (d) The United States is a natural gas importer, and has been for many years. The EIA is forecasting that by 2017, we will finally be able to meet our own natural gas needs.


Figure 1. US Natural Gas recent history and forecast, based on EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2014 Early Release Overview.

In fact, this last year, with a cold winter, we have had a problem with excessively drawing down amounts in storage.


Figure 2. US EIA’s chart showing natural gas in storage, compared to the five year average, from Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report.
(31 March 2014)


Everyone's getting excited about US oil independence. Not so fast.

Brad Plumer, Vox
American presidents have been dreaming about "oil independence" since Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. This is the aim of having the United States fulfill all of its oil needs from domestic sources — and not be reliant on Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or anyone else. And it always seemed like an unattainable goal.

Lately, however, energy analysts are taking that dream more seriously. On April 7, for the first time ever, the US Energy Information Administration said in its annual outlook that it was at least possible that net US oil imports could fall to zero by 2037.

That's partly because the United States is producing a lot more oil these days — thanks to offshore drilling and new techniques like hydraulic fracturing. It's also because we're driving more fuel-efficient cars and light trucks.

But does this mean US oil independence is — at long last — within reach? Well, not necessarily...
(9 April 2014)


Russia's South Stream pipeline in deep freeze as EU tightens sanctions noose

Ambrose Evans Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph
The European Union is close to freezing plans to complete the $50bn (£30bn) South Stream gas pipeline through the Black Sea from Russia, the first serious EU action to punish the Kremlin for the seizure of Crimea.

Key details emerged in a leaked briefing by the European Commission’s chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, to Bulgarian politicians, warning the country not to stand in the way of the EU’s tough new line on the project, or attempt to undercut a unified EU response over Ukraine. “We are telling Bulgaria to be very careful,” he said, according to reports in Bulgaria’s press.

Mr Barroso said there are “people in Bulgaria who are agents of Russia”, a reference to figures in the ruling Socialist party who have been trying to clinch a bilateral deal with the Kremlin...
(7 April 2014)

 

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