Streetwise Professor

December 27, 2009

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Filed under: Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:46 pm

Which means that it must be time for another Russia-Ukraine gas row.

After months of happy talk in which both sides repeatedly claimed that there was no prospect of a repeat of the 2005-06 and 2008-09 imbroglios, a few days ago Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller raised the alarm:

However, despite the expected rise in cold weather demand, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Friday Ukraine had cut gas purchases in recent days.

“We assess the situation with payments for Russian natural gas deliveries in December as very alarming,” Gazprom’s chief executive Alexei Miller told state television.

“In the middle of December, there was a trend of a reduction of gas off-take which confirms that Ukraine is facing serious difficulties with (future) gas payments,” Miller said.

A new wrinkle this year is Russia cutting off oil shipments through Ukraine for export:

Traders said on Friday Russia’s pipeline monopoly Transneft told oil firms to scrap oil export plans via Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Yuzhny and gave no reason for the move.

“All volumes have been taken away. There will be no supplies in January (from Yuzhny),” said one trader, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to comment on the issue.

This cutoff is probably a combination of signal (we can do it with oil, need we remind you we can do it with gas?) and economic pressure (reducing Ukrainian transshipment revenues).  Maybe the signal will get through, and Ukraine will come up with the scratch.  But with the elections impending, and the usual chaos of Ukrainian politics, it very well may not.

So, in the midst of another brutal winter (AGW=anthropomorphic global what?), Europe could be facing yet another gas crisis.  How often does that have to happen for the Europeans to get their act together?

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  1. “The real reason that Russia wants to build Nord Stream, which is more expensive than the existing gas pipeline network, is that it will enable Russia to interrupt gas supplies to EU member countries like Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, while keeping its German and other West European customers snug and warm.”

    Let’s not forget that this is all part of Russia’s new cold war. First the former Soviet dominoes must fall, then they come for us.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 28, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  2. Back in 2002-2003 Poland rebuffed Gazprom’s offer of a second pipeline and got Nord Stream instead. Russia can do no right.

    Comment by So? — December 28, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  3. Your stupidity is truly breathtaking. Are you suggesting that Russia would somehow have been prevented from turning off the spigot of this “second pipeline” shoved into Poland’s veins any time it wanted?

    Your comment is utterly inane. The point is that Russia is seeking to place itself in a position to cut off energy flows to Poland and other post-Soviet states. Your comment only further proves Russia’s efforts in this area, and does NOTHING to dispute the contention that Nord Stream is a weaponization of energy aimed at imperial neo-Soviet conquest.

    Do you really think you can fool SWP’s informed readers with such ridiculous pablum?

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 28, 2009 @ 11:55 pm

  4. Pipeline through Poland – Poland no like. Pipeline around – still no like. What Poland like?

    Comment by So? — December 29, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

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