Category Archives: Energy Diplomacy

How Will the Ukraine Crisis Shape the World Energy Market? [Politics Today]

Ukraine war: Can Russia's promise of fewer attacks be trusted? | Russia-Ukraine  war News | Al Jazeera

The Russian military aggression against Ukraine launched almost two months ago has clearly signaled a change in the traditional world order and triggered the unprecedented reaction of the Western coalition led by the U.S. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has left the global energy market uncertain, threatening to cause severe energy shortages and oil prices exceeding $110 per barrel.

Since the Russian intervention in Ukraine kicked off, numerous sanction packages have been imposed on Russia, hitting mostly financial institutes and state-owned companies. This resulted in Western countries’ consolidation, and the collective refusal of Russia-related transactions and import of Russian natural gas, oil, and coal.

Whereas the U.S. and UK-led Western coalition gathered to support Ukraine politically, economically, and military/technically, some EU countries are at loggerheads over demands for an immediate blockade on Russian oil imports, joining the international financial sanctions, and condemning Moscow’s actions locally.

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Could the Israel-Turkey Gas Pipeline End Europe’s Dependence on Russia? [Inside Arabia]

Could the Israel-Turkey Gas Pipeline End Europe’s Dependence on Russia?

The prospect of Israel and Tukey normalizing relations paves the way for profitable cooperation in a wide array of fields, including energy. Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Turkey in March instantly renewed the discussions regarding the Turkey-Israel gas pipeline project amid a colossal security cataclysm in Europe stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Europe is facing unprecedented energy security challenges and desperately looking for alternative and reliable suppliers, the countries are looking to the Turkey-Israeli gas pipeline as Europe’s alternative to Russian energy supplies.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s earlier statement that “gas cooperation is one of the most important steps we [Turkey and Israel] can take together for bilateral ties” should not come as a surprise. Erdogan also said “he was ready to send top ministers to Israel to revive the pipeline idea that has hung in the air for years.” Continue reading

How Will the New China-Russia Gas Deal Affect the Ukraine Crisis? [Politics Today]

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet in Beijing, China on February 4, 2022. Photo by Kremlin Press Office

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet in Beijing, China on February 4, 2022. Photo by Kremlin Press Office

Amid escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to China to finalize the negotiations over a new $80 billion natural gas agreement. On February 4, Gazprom signed an agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to supply Russian gas to China via the Far Eastern route for the next 25 years, which will boost Russian gas volumes to China by an extra 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year.

Unlike the previous Russia-China gas agreement on the Power of Siberia pipeline, which is being built for the last five years, the new agreement does not entail the construction of an additional pipeline network. Although the Western media dubbed this agreement unexpected, the negotiations over the agreement lasted six years and resulted in the signing of memoranda of understanding in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Russia has long aimed to capitalize on its vast hydrocarbon resources to cater to China’s increasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand. The agreement was signed at a time of an uneasy geopolitical situation between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine, which prepares for the full-scale war with Russia. In this vein, it is significant that the new gas agreement was settled in euros in an effort by both Moscow and Beijing to diversify away from trade in U.S. dollars.

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Europe Won’t Make Up for Shortfalls of Russian Gas Easily [World Politics Review]

Photo credit: CNBC News

Photo credit: CNBC News

The current crisis between Russia and Ukraine has put the United States and its European allies on high alert over the possibility of the first major interstate military conflict in Europe since World War II. Although efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis continue, the room for a mutually acceptable outcome has narrowed now that the U.S. and NATO have rejected Russia’s demands that no additional NATO troops be deployed to Eastern Europe, while continuing to provide arms and other aid to Ukraine.

Apart from the concerns the crisis has raised over European security and Russian revanchism, Europe is also particularly alarmed about the potential for major disruptions in its energy market, which is highly dependent on Russian oil and gas. Indeed, a military invasion of Ukraine could create an energy catastrophe in Europe if it results in Russian gas exports being cut entirely. The diplomatic fallout from an invasion could also trigger the cancellation of current energy projects within the European Union, such as the Nord Stream-2 pipeline to Germany, which would have long-term implications for European energy supplies. Continue reading

The Second Karabakh War and Caspian Energy

Trans-Caspian Pipeline (Photo-Credit: IENE)

Trans-Caspian Pipeline (Photo-Credit: IENE)

On November 10, the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. While the 44-day war caused severe damages to frontline settlements and civilian casualties on both sides, frequent missile attacks carried out by Armenia towards Azerbaijani cities and infrastructure beyond the frontline raised concerns not only in Baku but also in the EU regarding the security of vitally important energy infrastructure. The possibility of damages to energy infrastructure, particularly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, would explicitly put the role of these pipelines in European energy security under question.

BACKGROUND: The Tovuz/Tavush incidents on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July 2020 became a prelude to the second war between Baku and Yerevan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. On September 27, 2020, fighting escalated beyond the established “meeting point” (Line of Contact) with the involvement of a significant number of military personnel, artillery units, and long-range missiles, threatening the geopolitical stability in the Black Sea-Caspian region. Continue reading

Beijing’s Long Road to the Gulf Region (Baku Dialogues; Spring 2021)

Baku Dialogues; Issue: 4. Spring 2021

Baku Dialogues; Issue: 4. Spring 2021

Energy cooperation has been a key aspect of growing bilateral cooper­ation between China and the Arab states of the Gulf region for the past several years. Since 1996, China has become a net importer of crude oil and, as the second‑largest en­ergy consumer in the world after the United States, is now the third‑largest importer of oil after the United States and Japan. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that China is eying a deep and strategic partnership with the states of a re­gion that sits on top of the world’s largest proven crude oil and natural gas reserves.

The deepening political and economic cooperation between China and the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has received increasing atten­tion from the region’s more estab­lished strategic players: foremost the United States, but also the UK as well as the EU and some of its member states. Indeed, the region’s apparent geopolitical challenges— such as the American withdrawal from the Middle East, the escalation of sectarian wars in the region, the outbreak and development of the Syrian conflict followed by the spread of Islamic radicalism and similar threats—have encouraged the Arab states in the Gulf (as well as Iran) to look more to the East for new reliable partners. This has pro­vided China with an opportunity to obtain a foothold in the region, which sits adjacent to the Silk Road region and is therefore of signifi­cant and lasting interest to readers of Baku Dialogues. Continue reading

The Growing Influence of the United Arab Emirates in a Complex Central Asian Region

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (L) and Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan (R) in Astana during an official state visit in July 2018 /AFP

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan in Astana during an official state visit in July 2018 /AFP

With vast energy sources and favorable geography, Central Asia has been subject to intense rivalries between Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and the Gulf monarchies, among others, for influence.

The energy sector has become the key prize, with natural gas being of greatest importance. Increasingly, gas is a major source of exports for the region. Central Asia accounts for about 4 percent of global energy deposits. The oil reserves in Central Asia and along the Caspian Sea coast amount to 17 to 33 bbl/d, which are comparable to that of Qatar The Gulf monarchies have been particularly active in this area in recent years, signing several memoranda and partnerships in the region. The energy giant UAE heavily invests in energy sector of the Central Asian countries to increase its own footprint in the region, bring additional investments to fragile economies, and help them to move away from the energy-based economy. Also, the UAE’s growing investments in the region give additional leverage to Dubai-based private companies operating in these countries. Continue reading

Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline: A Priority Gas Transit Project for Azerbaijan and the Western Balkans

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 119

The Azerbaijani State Oil Company (SOCAR) announced, on July 27, the formation of a new corporate entity that will oversee the future development of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) project. The proposed pipeline is designed to deliver Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe—namely to the Balkan region. According to Murad Heydarov, the head of the subsidiary SOCAR Balkan, the announced firm will be set up by the end of this year (AzerNews, Trend, July 27). Although, SOCAR is not a stakeholder in the IAP project, it acts as a technical consultant and manages the future design of the pipeline between the Albanian cities of Fier and Vlora. This project will represent the first time that SOCAR will undertake engineering services in the Western Balkans. Continue reading

New Southern Gas Corridor Project Will Intensify the Regional Pipeline Race

Southern Gas Corridor Route

Southern Gas Corridor Route

On May 29, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev officially inaugurated the first phase of the long-awaited flagship project Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), through which Caspian natural gas from the Shah-Deniz II field will be transported to Europe. The new project consists of several pipeline networks that pass through Georgia and Turkey (via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, TANAP) and further through Greece, Albania and Italy (via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, TAP). As Shah Deniz Stage 2 is implemented, gas production will increase from 9 to 25 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.

BACKGROUND: A decade ago, the European Commission issued its Energy and Solidarity Action Plan, which set a clear target to help Eastern European countries boost and diversify their gas imports. The Southern Gas Corridor project is the backbone of this strategy to decrease Europe’s dependency on gas imports from Russia substantially. This has been a growing concern for policymakers ever since a conflict between Gazprom and the Ukrainian government interrupted supplies in the winter of 2006. Continue reading

Southern Gas Corridor Project Opening New Long-Term Opportunities for Europe

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 88

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, on May 29, officially inaugurated the first phase of his country’s long-awaited flagship Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project, through which Caspian-basin natural gas (from the offshore Shah-Deniz field) will be transported to Europe (Azernews, May 29). The new project consists of several linked pipelines that pass through Azerbaijan and Georgia (via the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion, or SCPX), Turkey (via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, TANAP), and further through Greece, Albania, and into Italy (via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, TAP). In the initial operational phase of the SGC, 6 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas will annually be transported via Turkey to Europe, and those volumes will be increased to 10 bcm after 2020. Reportedly, the volumes will be expanded to 31 bcm after 2026, if additional gas compressor stations are constructed. Continue reading