Washington wants to lay new natural gas pipelines in a region that supplies more than 70 percent of its energy needs from Russia
This article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated for RI by Anita Zalaldinova
But the Russians countered these plans with the construction of the "Turkish Stream" pipeline that will bind the EU countries as customers to Russia.
The US wants to free EU countries from their dependence on Russian energy. The real conflict between the West and Russia is about pipelines, power plants and ports.
The EU's new strategy is based on a strategic energy partnership with Ukraine. The EU intends to expand its pipeline infrastructure and increase the 'energy efficiency' of Ukraine to reduce Europe's dependence on energy imports. The aim is a gas partnership in the framework of the Energy Union, Reuters reports.
Senior US officials say that the ex-Soviet states must be "liberated from economic bullying by Moscow for decades." That is why Washington wants to lay new natural gas pipelines in a region that supplies more than 70 percent of its energy needs from Russia. And US companies will penetrate the fracking and nuclear power markets in Europe and displace Russian energy companies.
In order to halt this trend, Russia buys pipeline infrastructures in Europe. "It's a chess game," PBS NewsHour quotes the special representative for international energy policy of the US State Department, Amos Hochstein. Last month US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Bulgaria to advocate for the construction of a nuclear power plant to be built by a US company. Bulgaria imports 85 percent of its gas from Russia. The country’s entire supply of nuclear energy depends on Russia.
Hochstein said that Russia would lose about 20 percent of its current share of the Eastern European gas market by 2020. At least, this is the desire of Washington. While Western Europe is to provide the necessary funding for alternatives, the US wants to make Eastern Europeans allow the provision of technical and political support by them.
Last week, the first reverse supply of gas from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to Ukraine was explicitly praised in a speech of the US diplomat Victoria Nuland at the Brookings Institution. Ukraine should be helped out of their energy crisis. In addition, a new gas interconnector was built between Moldova and Romania. "We want to ensure that energy is not used as a weapon," said Nuland. Quite frankly the Americans just want to snatch from the Russians the lucrative European energy market.
But the Kremlin is aware of the strategy of the US and would like to bind the Europeans as gas customers. Last December Russia revoked the South Stream gas pipeline, reports the Financial Times. The EU had always torpedoed the South Stream project because, as the EU argues, a corporation cannot perform as network operators and suppliers at the same time.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that instead a new pipeline through Turkey is to be built, named "Turkish Stream". If the EU has an interest in their own gas, they will have to build a new pipeline infrastructure up to the Greek–Turkish border. Turkey will be the central distributor of natural gas from Russia to the EU, according to the will of Russia along with Germany.
But whether Russia’s Turkish Stream, given the difficult economic situation, can really be built is unclear — since, according to the request of the Turks, Gazprom is to bear most of the cost of construction. In addition, Ankara requires very high transit fees from Gazprom.
The EU is aware of its current situation and will attempt to liberate itself. It will focus on strategic energy partnerships with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, reports the Financial Times. EU Energy Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič says that Europe is tired of thinking every year about how the energy supply in the winter is to be ensured.