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What The US and Russia Are Really Quarreling Over: Pipelines


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, congress, corruption, dishonesty, Govtfearmongering, FRACKING, OPEC, politics, propaganda )

Kit
- 245 days ago - truth-out.org
A 21st-century "gas Cold War" has arisen between the U.S. and Russia, with Edward Snowden serving as the illustrative protagonist. President Obama, upset over Russia's asylum offer to Snowden, recently cancelled a summit with President Putin.



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Kit B. (277)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 7:43 am
Global Shale Gas Reserves - Graph from WSJ


Nearly two months ago, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden handed smoking-gun documents on the international surveillance apparatus to The Guardian andThe Washington Post in what’s become one of the most captivating stories in recent memory.

Snowden now lives in Russia after a Hollywood-like nearly six-week-long stint in a Moscow airport waiting for a country to grant him asylum.


NSA leaker Edward Snowden leaves Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, after being granted asylum in Russia for one year. (AP/Russia24 via Associated Press Television)

Journalists and pundits have spent countless articles and news segments conveying the intrigue and intensity of the standoff that eventually resulted in Russia granting Snowden one year of asylum. Attention now has shifted to his father, Lon Snowden, and his announced visit of Edward in Russia.

Lost in the excitement of this “White Bronco Moment,” many have missed the elephant in the room: the “Great Game”-style geopolitical standoff between the U.S. and Russia underlying it all, and which may have served as the impetus for Russia to grant Snowden asylum to begin with. What’s at stake? Natural gas.

Russia, of course, has its own surveillance state and has been described by The Guardian’s Luke Harding as a “Mafia State” due to the deep corruption that reportedly thrives under Putin’s watch.

It all comes as the U.S. competes with Russian gas production thanks in part to the controversial drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing - “fracking” – transforming the United States into what President Barack Obama has hailed as the “Saudi Arabia of gas.”

Russia produced 653 billion cubic meters of gas in 2012, while the U.S. produced 651 billion cubic meters, making them the top two producers in the world.

Creating a “Gas OPEC”

Illustrating this elephant in the room is the fact that when, on July 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin first addressed whether he would grant Snowden asylum, he did so at the annual meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Moscow, which unfolded July 1-2.

“If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” Putin stated at GECF’s annual summit.

Paralleling the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — The New York Times calls it a “gas OPEC” — GECF is a bloc of countries whose mission is to fend off U.S. and Western power dominance of the global gas trade. The 13 member countries include Russia, Iran, Bolivia, Venezuela, Libya, Algeria and several others.

GECF has held informal meetings since 2001, becoming an official chartered organization in 2008 and dominated in the main by Russia. GECF Secretary General Leonid Bokhanovskiy is also the former VP of Stroytransgaz, a subsidiary of Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom.

Depicting the close proximity between Putin’s regime and GECF’s leadership is the fact that Gennady Timchenko – a member of “Putin’s inner circle,” according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism – owns an 80-percent stake in Stroytransgaz.

A 21st-century “gas Cold War” has arisen between the U.S. and Russia, with Edward Snowden serving as the illustrative protagonist. President Obama, upset over Russia’s asylum offer to Snowden, recently cancelled a summit with President Putin.

With access to the free flow of oil and gas resources a central tenet of U.S. national security policy under theCarter Doctrine, there’s no guarantee this new Cold War will end well.

Fracked gas exports fend off Russia, but for how long?

Fracking is in the process of transforming the U.S. from a net importer of gas to a net exporter, with threeliquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals on the Gulf Coast already rubber-stamped for approval by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Industry cheerleaders as well as President Obama and other like-minded politicians say there are “100 years of natural gas” under the United States, a geopolitical game-changer to say the very least.

But independent petroleum geologists and investors alike see it differently, concluding perhaps 15-20 years of gas exist at current diminishing, “exploration treadmill” rates of return.

“More and more wells must be drilled and operated to maintain production as the average productivity per well is declining,” David Hughes, a Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute explains in his report “Drill Baby, Drill.” “Since 1990, the number of operating gas wells in the United States has increased by 90 percent while the average productivity per well has declined by 38 percent.”

This means there likely won’t be enough gas to fend off GECF and Russian dominance of the global gas market in the long term, particularly because Russia relies on easier-to-obtain conventional gas, as opposed to tough-to-obtain unconventional shale gas.

Despite the reality of the “exploration treadmill,” myriad politicians have backed the notion of the U.S. serving as a global supplier of gas via LNG exports. Congress has already introduced two bills in 2013 – the Expedite our Economy Act of 2013 and the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013 – calling for expedited approval of the remaining LNG export terminal proposals.

“[T]he timeline for considering these applications may jeopardize our ability to retain a competitive position against other natural gas exporting nations who are also working diligently to export LNG,” a bipartisan cadre of 34 U.S. Senators wrote in a July 9 letter to U.S. Department of Energy head Ernest Moniz urging the DOE for to speedily approve LNG export terminal applications. “There is a global race for market share underway,” the letter continued. “American competitors have been at a disadvantage for the past year and a half because the Department of Energy has delayed action on pending applications.”

Sometimes politicians are vague when it comes to the rationale for expedited LNG exports, using phrases like the ability to maintain a “competitive position” against “other natural gas exporting nations” but not calling out those nations by name.

Others, however, take off the kid gloves and name names. “Our bill will also promote the energy security of key U.S. allies by helping reduce their dependence on oil and gas from countries, such as Russia and Iran,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), co-sponsor of the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013, of the rational behind the bill’s January 2013 introduction.

Months later, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) wrote similarly in a June 2013 Houston Chronicle op-ed piece. “Aside from unquestionable economic benefits, there are also geopolitical considerations that make exporting LNG to our friends and allies a no-brainer,” Poe wrote. “The risk of high reliance on Russian gas has been a principal driver of European energy policy in recent decades … From the U.S. perspective, cheap but reliable natural gas would reduce Moscow’s clout while shoring up goodwill amongst our allies.”

Faced with diminishing returns on shale gas basins nationwide, U.S. strategic planners haven’t put all of their eggs in one basket, and have a backup plan in mind to fend off Russia and GECF.

Enter U.S. gas “anchor,” Azerbaijan

The LNG for NATO Act was another key bill introduced in December 2012 by now-retired U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). That legislation’s introduction came alongside the release of a key Senate Foreign Relations Committee report titled, “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe.”

First discussed at a press event hosted by the influential Atlantic Council – then headed by current Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel – the premise of the report was simple: many NATO member states rely on Russia for gas imports.


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, gestures to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev as they walk along an embankment in Baku, Azerbaijan on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (AP/RIA Novosti Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev/Presidential Press Service)

And Russia is the main power player alongside China overseeing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which effectively operates as NATO’s foil. Thus, the report concludes, NATO must find a way to wean itself off of Russian gas.

“This strategic U.S. initiative would advance U.S. interests by alleviating Russian gas-fueled pressure against NATO allies, bolstering bilateral relations in the Caspian Sea region, and further isolating Iran,” Lugar wrote in introducing the report.

One of the report’s solutions calls for undermining the DOE’s LNG export approval process for fracked gas exports to NATO allies due to the U.S. having — wait for it — a “100-year supply” of gas.

“As a first step, we should allow exports of U.S. natural gas, now abundant thanks to shale gas, to all our NATO allies,” Lugar wrote in an op-ed summarizing the report’s conclusions. “At current consumption rates, we have an estimated 100-year supply, and prices have fallen so low that new drilling activity is drying up. We easily could export some of this surplus as LNG without causing consumer gas prices to spike here at home.”

Perhaps knowing the “100-year supply” is more fiction than fact, the report does point to something “even more important”: Azerbaijan’s robust supply of conventional gas.

Azerbaijan, ruled by a human-rights-violating authoritarian regime and bordered by the Caspian Sea to the east and Iran to the south, has the 24th highest proven reserves of natural gas in the world and maintains friendly relations with the U.S. and NATO countries.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report refers to Azerbaijan as an “anchor” gas supplier for NATO countries, a key source of imported gas in particular for European Union countries seeking to fend off reliance on Russian gas.
***Continue reading at VISIT SITE****

By Steve Horn, Mint Press News | News Analysis | Truthout |

 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 7:48 am

THEY say nothing is as it appears to be and this article most certainly verifies that conclusion. The article is a bit long but only one long page.

Snowden and FRACKING, who would make that association? Natural gas and pipelines to carry that gas are quickly becoming the new cold war between the US and Russia. The rub? Like OIL deposits, reserves of natural gas are limited and there is a rush to extract the most, corner the market the quickest, and be the biggest baddest driller on the world stage.

 

JL A. (270)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 12:31 pm
Aren't our wars always about oil?
 

Angelika R. (143)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 1:02 pm
Certainly makes all our efforts with petitions to stop fracking look like a bitter joke... and who needs a "100 years supply" anyway as long as humans are living too large on a finite planet.!?! World leaders always worry and quarrel over the wrong matters...
 

Angelika R. (143)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 1:30 pm
apparently comments are now getting submitted in a magical secret way without you knowing it..until later
 

Dave C. (205)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 6:13 pm
noted, thanks....sadly....
 

GGmaSheila D. (89)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 6:41 pm
So all this rush to frack and drill is because Russia and the US are in a pissing match...polluting our land , water, and air, ruining habitat and killing off wildlife just to see who can the farthest and last the longest.

Is there any voice of reason in this whole thing, because it certainly can't be found in either the GOP/TP or the Democrats...??
 

Ravenna C. (20)
Wednesday August 21, 2013, 6:58 pm
Snowden and Fracking are linked?!? Geez! Just when I think I am a cynic I realize I must be looking at the world through rose colored glasses because I did not see that coming.

I should have. It always boils down to power and greed.
 

Ros G. (87)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 12:06 am
Thanks Kit..great read..Why am I not surprised????
 

Ros G. (87)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 12:07 am
Thanks Kit..great read..Why am I not surprised????
 

Linda Rust (66)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 3:56 am
So the U.S. plan is to dominate the world stage again- but instead of nuclear weapons as a platform, we will use- Liquid Natural Gas?! And we are again in a struggle with Russia over world dominance? And the U.S. position is built on a lie because we don't actually have the LNG supplies anyway- and we'd have to frack every square mile of our land and pollute all or major water resources to extract what there is? Great plan--what could go wrong? It's insanity- a total break from reality. How can the U.S govt think they won't be found out?
 

Michael Kirkby (82)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 9:53 am
Profit first and at the very hindmost the welfare of the planet and its constituents. Damn these lying thieves to two dimensional incarceration.
 

Shaheen N. (58)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 11:55 am
N & S. Thanks
 

Judy C. (106)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 1:40 pm
It seems like such a loser's game, fighting a battle with fossil fuel. Wouldn't you know, this is brought to you by the the same two countries who have bankrupted themselves trying to occupy Afghanistan.
 

Lois Jordan (55)
Thursday August 22, 2013, 3:44 pm
Interesting---thanks, Kit. Whoa--great comment by Judy (above)! Excellent point!
I just get so tired...thinking...if only the U.S. & Russia could make this a competition over renewable energy like wind & solar. Which country's scientists & innovators could find the best & cheapest plan to get rid of all the dirty fossil fuels? But, no, let's stick to the same-old garbage, just ramp it up. Sigh!
 
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