Cold War Gas?

“Europe has decided to play a role among the big players of the world, while not being energy-independent, but this is not good” said the CEO of ENI (National Hydrocarbons Energy), Paolo Scaroni, “political independence coincides with energy” and it has to be said that the EU, in this field, still has a long way to go.

38% of German gas comes from Russia, but does not pass through Ukraine. “It should be better for Spain, Portugal and Great Britain that “do not buy Russian gas. This also goes for France, Italy and the Netherlands, who also buy it from Russia but have other supplier countries too.”

Photo Credits: Revista Limes
Photo Credits: Revista Limes

Italy, for example, while buying 28% of its gas supply from Moscow, can also count on other supplies such as Algeria and Libya.

But two problems remain and are common to all states of the Union: the first, of course, is related to costs; the second, however, concerns the security of supply.

Regarding the South Stream project, the project of a gas pipeline that will connect Russia and the European Union directly, eliminating any country outside the Community transit, the situation is rather complicated, although it remains the most desirable since it avoids the risk of transit through Ukraine.

On the other hand, the North Stream, the natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea that directly transports gas from Russia to Europe, seems more and more distant as a reality, if not impossible. if the European Union decides to punish the Russian gas “the issue is complicated by the fact that the whole crisis is being handled by a European Commission that is about to expire and with the prospect of elections in May,” says the CEO of Eni. Therefore, “we are either willing, as Americans to embrace shale gas- methane gas from non-conventional deposits of clay- or we will be forced to embrace Putin’s will.”

The US could play a key role in the political crisis that is unsettling pipelines – and the international community as a whole- and worried consumers, as it “is not a matter of days or months because, unlike oil which can be bought anywhere, gas needs infrastructure, such as liquefaction plants, ships, etc..”

Yet it almost seems like Obama has been waiting precisely for this, now that Merkel, who is dependent on Russian gas, has noticed that Putin is not reliable, the EU would be ready to move towards diversification. For this reason, the US President has already entrusted to the Energy Secretary and former professor at MIT, Ernest Moniz, to study proposals to bring to the G7 that will meet shortly.

It is true that it will not be easy to export US gas to Europe before the end of 2015, but this move would send Putin the message that Washington is determined to fight with all the resources it possesses in the long run, and simultaneously launch another message to Europe that they are not alone.

Although the trade of the Old Continent with Russia is 10 times higher than the trade with the US, if the reluctant allies will support sanctions (including energy), at least they won’t be left alone to support the costly consequences.

The Americans, by the way, thanks to their new technologies, are already at the forefront in the extraction of shale gas and are already providing support to Poland in this field. According to experts in the field, in a short time they will exceed even Saudi Arabia as a leader in the oil market.

CEO of ENI, Paolo Scaroni Photo credits: histonium.net
CEO of ENI, Paolo Scaroni
Photo credits: histonium.net

According analysts Ian Bremmer and Lee Wolosky but this will not be enough to entice the Allies to take the path of sanctions against Putin, “because nobody wants to go to the point of harshness.” But Washington isn’t ready to give in, “This is not a new Cold War, because Russia does not drive a block of countries, it no longer has a unifying ideology like communism and it is isolated.”

Erika Sciarra

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