When energy and geopolitics collide head-on in SE Europe

When energy and geopolitics collide head-on in SE Europe

The traditional “big” forces have turned the region of SEE into a ground of conflicting interests. 

Europe claims that it does not need Russia and Russian gas and is looking for ways to release itself from its “claws”, while part of it is trying to rely on the U.S. and the American shale gas.

However, in the case of Turkey, the same thing happened with Europe, which, in order to cope with increased gas needs last winter, called on Gazprom to help it.

Perhaps a clear answer to the question of how much Turkey is dependent on Russia cannot be given, but in 2017 Turkey recorded a record of gas imports from Russia.

The truth is that the weather and the needs of the domestic market have imposed it.

In any case, Turkey is now coming second after Germany on the list of countries with which Gazprom is working closely.

The construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, at least a leg of it is in full swing and is being completed according to the original plans.

At the same time, however, Turkey has not abandoned its efforts to find alternative sources of supply to the domestic industry, ensuring co-operation with both Azerbaijan and Qatar.

Indeed, hydrocarbons support the Russian economy to date and, at the same time, the country’s political and geopolitical ambitions.

So, is Europe right when it expresses its concern that the Nord Stream II can hurt it or when it celebrates Gazprom’s abandoning the South Stream pipeline?

As the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) states, “When countries clash over gas, they are often clashing over different conceptions about how energy and politics are connected.”

The needs of the European market, however, are well known and in some ways Europe needs to cover them; so far, Russia has no equal in this field.

Would the solution be for the EU instead of imposing anti-Russian natural gas measures to take care of the functioning of its internal energy market so that it becomes effective and thus resilient to external pressures?

Meeting Lavrov – Maas

At a meeting yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Moscow said that “Russia is willing to continue consultations with Ukraine on the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to a destination Europe.”

“However – as he noted – there is no doubt that the Nord Stream II pipeline is necessary and is a project that is fully documented from an economic point of view for Europe. It is enough to remind that the length of this pipeline is two times smaller than the pipeline that currently ends in Germany via Ukraine, and the value of gas transit will be one and a half times lower than the current value of the transit. In this way the benefit to European consumers is quite obvious.”

The time of the Balkans

Today, the Balkans confirm history, as conflicts between countries are reviving, making it impossible to carry out energy infrastructure where one project, one pipeline, for example, competes or wants to “neutralise” the other.

Could the Balkans rely on their own power?

The only country that could test remaining on its own is Romania, with the further development of the Neptun gas field, jointly operated by the American ExxonMobil and the Romanian OMV Petrom. Greece follows, mainly thanks to its LNG infrastructure…. / IBNA