Thursday, March 22, 2018

GWPF Newsletter - Green Madness: Europe’s Growing Dependence On Russian Gas








Turn Off The Russian Gas Tap And Get Fracking

In this newsletter:

1) Europe’s Growing Dependence On Russia May Leave Britain Left Out In The Cold
City A.M., 20 March 2018

2) Blackout Threat To Britain From Russian Cyber-Attack
The Sunday Times, 19 March 2018



3) US Blames Russia For Cyber Attacks On The Energy Grid
Reuters, 16 March 2018

4) British Govt Scrutinises Energy Security Amid Russia Tensions
Jillian Ambrose, The Sunday Telegraph, 17 March 2018
 
5) ‘UK Must Boost Fracking To Reduce Reliance On Russian Energy’
Energy Live News, 16 March 2018

6) Harry Wilkinson: We Must Turn Off The Russian Gas Tap And Get Fracking
The Conservative Woman, 18 March 2018
 
7) Merkel Looks to LNG to Cut Germany’s Dependence on Russian Gas
Bloomberg, 19 March 2018

8) Europe’s Cold Shoulder To Russian Gas Could Lift US LNG Export Goals
Platts, 19 March 2018 


Full details:

1) Europe’s Growing Dependence On Russia May Leave Britain Left Out In The Cold
City A.M., 20 March 2018
 
As Britain froze again over the weekend thanks to the mini Beast from the East, another chill wind blew across Europe from Russia.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin was re-elected with more than 76 per cent of the vote and immediately ratcheted up the war of words between his country and Britain.
 
Mr Putin’s victory in Russia’s general election was all but assured before voters even went to the polls on Sunday. He will remain President of Russia until 2024 and will become Russia’s longest serving leader since Joseph Stalin.
 
For many, the similarities between the two don’t end there. Political opposition in Russia is scant at best, the media is tightly controlled and Russia’s neighbours look east with fear. Meanwhile, it is hard to look at the current state of Britain’s relationship with Russia and not conclude that the UK, at least, is entering a new cold war with the former Soviet empire.
 
But might Britain be the one left out in the cold? It is a question the prime minister was asked last Wednesday during Prime Minister’s Questions and Theresa May was unable to give a definitive answer.
 
France, Germany, Italy and the US all gave lukewarm initial support to Britain in the wake of the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. While that support has grown over the past week, many European nations know there is little they can do in response.
 
Keeping warm
 
This is ultimately because of a failure of globalisation. While free trade may stop wars, it often fails to address certain injustices that leave it open to attack by populists.
 
Russia can act with impunity in Syria, the Crimea and even, it seems, Britain. This isn’t because it has nuclear weapons - although that certainly helps - but because it has oil and gas in abundance.
 
Germany is about to embark on the building of a new gas pipeline to Russia at a cost of €9.5 billion (£7.95bn). Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states all fear the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. They are also concerned the gas pipeline will provide the Kremlin with billions of dollars of additional revenue to finance a further military build-up on the European Union’s (EU) border.
 
In January, then US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, outlined US opposition to the pipeline.
 
“Like Poland, the United States opposes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We see it as undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability,” Mr Tillerson said.
 
Such a project presents serious problems for Germany and for the rest of Europe. On the one hand, Germany needs the gas pipeline, on the other hand its ability to stand up to Russian aggression, perceived or real, is diminished.
 
Russia has already shown itself willing to cut off gas supplies as it has done to Ukraine. What would stop it doing so in the event of a breakdown of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Berlin, or Moscow and Brussels?
 
As Europe becomes ever more reliant on Russian gas to keep warm in the winter, its ability to chastise Russia is weakened. ...
 
Britain, as well as much of Europe, is energy poor and reliant upon imports of oil and gas.
 
Unless that changes, there is little Britain can do about Russia without significant support from its NATO allies. And that is likely to become harder to come by, as Europe becomes ever more reliant on Russian gas.
 
Full post
 
2) Blackout Threat To Britain From Russian Cyber-Attack
The Sunday Times, 19 March 2018
 
Spy chiefs have warned the bosses of Britain’s key power companies to boost their security amid fears of a Russian cyber-attack that could put the lights out.
 
The National Grid was put on alert last week by officials from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) — a branch of the signals intelligence agency GCHQ — and given advice on how to improve its defences to prevent power cuts.
 
Electricity, gas and water firms, the Sellafield nuclear power plant, Whitehall departments and NHS hospitals have all been warned to prepare for a state- sponsored assault ordered by the Kremlin after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
 
NCSC officials, working with the National Crime Agency and MI5’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, have told key organisations that they could face attempts to steal the data of taxpayers and patients or “denial of service” attacks that could shut down their websites.
 
A Whitehall security source said: “They’re contacting all the critical national infrastructure operators. They’ve been in touch with National Grid with guidance.”
 
Full story
 
3) US Blames Russia For Cyber Attacks On The Energy Grid
Reuters, 16 March 2018
 
Beginning in March 2016, or possibly earlier, Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple US critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing, according to a US security alert published Thursday.
 
The announcement marks the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.
 
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI said in the alert that a "multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors" had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities "where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks." The alert did not name facilities or companies targeted.
 
The direct condemnation of Moscow represented an escalation in the Trump administration's attempts to deter Russia's aggression in cyberspace, after senior US intelligence officials said in recent weeks the Kremlin believes it can launch hacking operations against the West with impunity.
 
It coincided with a decision Thursday by the US Treasury Department to impose sanctions on 19 Russian people and five groups, including Moscow's intelligence services, for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and other malicious cyber attacks.
 
Russia in the past has denied it has tried to hack into other countries' infrastructure, and vowed on Thursday to retaliate for the new sanctions.
 
'Unprecedented and extraordinary'

US security officials have long warned that the United States may be vulnerable to debilitating cyber attacks from hostile adversaries. It was not clear what impact the attacks had on the firms that were targeted.
 
But Thursday's alert provided a link to an analysis by the US cyber security firm Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations.
 
Full story
 
4) British Govt Scrutinises Energy Security Amid Russia Tensions
Jillian Ambrose, The Sunday Telegraph, 17 March 2018
 
Government officials are undertaking a rash of reviews into energy security as political tensions between Russia and the UK continue to escalate.
 
For the first time, the Government’s official quarterly energy report at the end of the month will lay bare the UK’s reliance on Russia for winter gas.
 
Meanwhile, officials are in crunch talks with key gas stakeholder groups to understand the cost of the UK’s growing reliance on foreign gas imports to major industrial energy users.
 
The first event concluded in frustration on Friday, according to one attendee, after officials told the 80 strong group that it still believes Britain’s gas system is resilient despite two major price shocks this winter, which experts believe will raise bills for millions of homes and companies.
 
The officials responded to fresh fears over Russia’s influence on gas prices across Europe by drawing on figures published in 2016 which claim that less than 1pc of Britain’s gas is sourced directly from Russia.
 
“We have reviewed the amount of gas imported, and concluded that to the end of 2017 that figure remains accurate,” a government spokesman said. “We will be publishing updated figures in the coming weeks.”
 
Almost half the gas cargoes imported to the UK this winter via liquefied natural gas tankers came from Russia’s newest export terminal.
 
At the same time the UK is at the mercy of Russia’s energy influence due to imports from the European continent where a third of all gas is Russian, but this impact has not been modelled by government before. A second gas security meeting will take place at the end of the month.
 
5) ‘UK Must Boost Fracking To Reduce Reliance On Russian Energy’
Energy Live News, 16 March 2018

The UK Government needs to speed up the development of fracking to improve the country’s energy security and make it less reliant on imports from Russia.

That’s according to the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), which says in light of the “crisis” in British-Russian relations, planning laws regarding the controversial energy source need to be changed as quickly as possible.

It suggests this is necessary for the UK to avoid becoming too reliant on foreign imports for its gas supply in the near future.

Recent winter shortages forced Britain to import emergency gas supplies from Russia, which the GWPF stresses is an “unsustainable situation”.

The group says the first step is to change the law to class initial drilling as permitted development to stop activists from delaying the early stages of exploration.

A spokesperson from the group said: “The length of time it has been taking for shale gas extraction to get planning approval demonstrates that the system is utterly failing.

“An approach is needed that can bring about swift but considered planning decisions and that also provides the necessary reassurances for local communities that the environment is protected and disruption minimised.”

6) Harry Wilkinson: We Must Turn Off The Russian Gas Tap And Get Fracking
The Conservative Woman, 18 March 2018
 
The recent gas shortages and price spikes are a wake-up call. Russia’s outrageous behaviour makes it the last country we should rely on to keep the lights burning.
 
What has got us into this mess? A decade of virtue-signalling, ‘alternative facts’ and wishful thinking, all utterly divorced from Britain’s national interest and the need for cheap, secure and reliable energy.
 
The fantasy that we can rely on renewables to supply our energy needs has been trashed by the National Grid, which has now acknowledged that it is not feasible to switch to electric heating on the scale required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by the middle of this century. This is an extraordinary admission and if the Government fails to acknowledge it then it is guilty of a wanton attempt to sacrifice our prosperity and security at the green altar. We are going to need reliable and secure gas supplies for a long time into the future; this isn’t up for negotiation. The question is, where do we want them to come from?
 
Worryingly, National Grid has also warned that Britain may become reliant on imports for more than 90 per cent of our gas supplies by 2040. The security implications if this comes from Russia are enormous. So as it stands, the situation is only going to get worse. In contrast, National Grid says that if the UK develops its shale resources, that figure will be only 30 per cent.
 
To achieve this won’t be easy. Planning applications for fracking have been held up for years by vindictive green campaigners. They have been employing expensive planning specialists to delay exploration activity for as long as possible.
 
The law needs to change to classify ‘non-fracking’ drilling (exploration) as permitted development. This was actually in the Conservative manifesto, and it would stop activists from delaying even preliminary stages of onshore gas exploration. It would be a strong signal of intent that Britain is serious about developing its shale resources.
 
That there should have been a shortage of gas supplies this winter is all the more shocking in an era of global natural gas abundance. Cheap fossil fuel energy is transforming the planet for the better and it’s what most sensible governments want for their citizens. Our leaders need to get a grip.
 
7) Merkel Looks to LNG to Cut Germany’s Dependence on Russian Gas
Bloomberg, 19 March 2018 
 
Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to build a liquefied natural gas industry in Germany basically from scratch to reduce the nation’s dependence on supplies arriving by pipeline from Russia and Norway.
 
With gas reservoirs depleting from the U.K. to the Netherlands, Germany is becoming increasingly reliant on Russia for its energy needs at a time when political tensions are mounting with Vladimir Putin’s government in Moscow.
 
That’s prompting Merkel to think again about LNG as an option, building terminals on the North Sea and Baltic Sea that could import the fuel and bypass facilities in the neighboring Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. Her newly formed coalition has a “coalition contract” that among other policies sets out an energy agenda including LNG for the next four years.
 
Merkel backs “all initiatives supporting further diversification of gas supply -- whether from different regions or means of transporting gas,” Economy and Energy Ministry spokeswoman Beate Baron said in a note.
 
The furor between Russia and the U.K. in the wake of the nerve-agent attack on British soil prompted Prime Minister Theresa May to retaliate by expelling Russian diplomats and seeking alternatives to Russian gas, including LNG produced at its new Arctic plant. This followed shipments earlier this year to the U.S., which drew attention because some of the LNG was produced at the Yamal LNG plant that’s been under U.S. financial sanctions.
 
Less polluting than coal and oil, natural gas is taking a central role in Germany’s effort to make the economy carbon neutral by 2050. That also involves closing coal plants and investing in wind and solar farms.
 
Gas consumption rose 5 percent last year, the AGEB industry group said on March 16. And since Germany currently has no terminal for importing the fuel in its liquid form and turning it into gas, those supplies arrived by pipeline. Russian gas made up more than 60 percent of Germany’s total imports for most of last year, according to data from Marex Spectron Group Ltd., and the country says its fuel is the most flexible and reliable.
 
Across Europe, LNG use is on the rise. Imports to the 28 member states increased an annualized 22 percent at the end of the third quarter, with nations such as the U.K. and Spain in the lead in developing import capacity. Still, most terminals in northwestern Europe are underused.
 
Full post
 
8) Europe’s Cold Shoulder To Russian Gas Could Lift US LNG Export Goals
Platts, 19 March 2018 
 
Europe's efforts to cut its reliance on Russian supplies of natural gas are being seen as a timely business opportunity for US LNG exporters feverishly trying to secure long-term contracts to finance terminal projects.
 
Comments Monday to that effect by officials from Poland and Lithuania at trade group LNG Allies' Transatlantic Energy Security Forum in Houston come as Russian President Vladimir Putin won his fourth term, guaranteeing that he will be in power through the period in the early 2020s when the second wave of US liquefaction facilities are hoping to come online.
 
Putin's firm grip on Russia's energy policy ties the interests of Europe and US industry together at a critical juncture for both regions. Breaking Russia's stranglehold on the pipeline flow of natural gas to its neighbors would give Europe access to a competitive marketplace for gas, while US LNG projects stand to gain willing buyers with a strong appetite for imports at a time when they face challenges locking down enough customers to finance construction.
 
"After yesterday's election, I should say two things are stable in Russia -- this is the president and energy policy goals," said Zygimantas Vaiciunas, Lithuania's energy minister. "The key goal, the key target is the same -- to have the biggest market, the biggest power, the biggest market share as possible."
 
LNG COULD TAKE POLITICS OUT OF GAS FLOW
 
Demand for gas in European Union countries has increased as the bloc aggressively pursues clean air policies, which means less use of coal for power production. While Russia has been a major source of gas supply to the region for decades, in recent years some countries have expressed a desire to have cheaper, more predictable supplies - to effectively take the politics out of the flow.
 
LNG provides that opportunity, with new regasification infrastructure being developed in Europe, to turn the chilled gas back into the dry form that is delivered through pipelines.
 
S&P Global Platts Analytics expects that European LNG imports will increase to 9.4 Bcf/d by 2023, a 3.3 Bcf/d (53%) increase over 2017 and substantially stronger than the global average, which is only expected to increase by 33% over the same period.
 
Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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