The energy security stall mate after the Russia – EU Summit in Bruxelles in December 2012 continues in Davos. Russian – European relations with regard to energy security have suffered considerably since the onset of the war in Syria. With the United States, using its political leverage to drive a wedge in between Russia and Europe, and with the cause of the Syria war still not being discussed openly and constructively, both Russia, Europe and the US-Dollar may be heading toward a deep freeze.
Russia is currently delivering between 22 and 26 % of the gas that is consumed in the EU. The main routes of delivery are the North Stream pipeline from St. Petersburg to northern Germany and the South Stream pipeline from the Caspian Sea to southern Europe.
After the discovery of the worlds largest known gas reserves, the PARS gas fields in the Persian Gulf in 2007 the global energy dynamics have changed considerably. This change has ultimately led to the war on Syria.
The PARS gas fields are situated between Qatar and Iran. Two pipeline projects were proposed. A Qatar, US, Saudi cartel proposed the Nabucco pipeline project. Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia proposed the PARS pipeline project, which has proven to be more competitive.
The PARS gas fields, together with the gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean are estimated to contain sufficient gas to sustain the energy requirements for Europe and the Middle East for the coming 100 -120 years. Thai is, even though the consumption of gas increases at its current rate. The PARS pipeline, almost completed to Damascus, is planned to end near Tartus, Syria.
If the pipeline is completed, the EU would begin to receive 40 – 50 % of its gas directly or indirectly controlled by Russia, with Iran being a major stakeholder too. This development is unacceptable for the USA for a variety of reasons.
The primary reason is that loosing out on the competition has critically weakened the value and security of the US-Dollar. The other reason is, that the USA fears to loose political leverage in Europe if the energy sectors and market economies of the EU and Russia become increasingly integrated.
Finally, Israel, the USA, and some of the European governments fear that Iran would gain more political leverage with respect to Palestine and nuclear energy issues if the PARS pipeline goes online. With 40 – 50 % of its gas provided by Russia and Iran, many EU members governments may become more sympathetic toward ending 60 years of occupation in Palestine, and less aggressive toward Iran.
The war in Syria is a direct consequence of this dispute. However, non of the parties in Davos has so far approached the primary problem constructively.
One of the most controversial provisions of the EU´s Third Energy Package is that all transit infrastructure must be handed over to operators who are independent from energy generating mineral and gas-producing companies.
The permanent Russian representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov however, said that the enforcement of this provision has basically led to the nationalization of pipelines in some East European countries.
In December 2012 however, the representative of the EU Trade Commission Karl De Gucht, accused Russia for failure to fulfill its obligations within the World Trade Organization, WTO, blaming Russia for not having sufficiently increased its import of motor vehicles, and for having violated treaties by banning the import of certain kinds of cattle from EU countries because they did not meet Russian requirements.
With unwillingness from both the USA and the EU to find a peaceful resolution to the Syria crisis, and with the recent French – NATO pivot into Mali, a wider energy war becomes increasingly likely. This also directly affects the Russian import of motor vehicles from the EU due to Russian security concerns. The cancellation of the further Russian import of armored IVECO cars from Italy for the Russian military may be a direct consequence of Russian concerns about the possibility of a war.
The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev disagreed with the EU position on the Third Energy Package and called it a revision of existing agreements. ”As to anti-monopoly structures, we are not against different procedures if they occur by a law, but we think that the EU´s position on the Third Energy Package is wrong.
Even if it pursues positive goals. It has a significant impact on existing ties and means a rejection of current agreements” , Medvedev said on 23. January, adding that he thinks that this is a violation of existing Russian European agreements.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed the hope that a compromise could be reached while he also said that it would be unacceptable if the provisions of the Third Energy Package were retroactively applied with effect on current contracts between Gazprom and its consumers.
The stall mate between the EU and Russia is bound to continue, bound to negatively affect both Russian and European economies and energy security, bound to aggravate the crisis in Syria,and bound to threaten security globally, as long as the core issues, including the role of the USA in destabilizing Russian European relations and the US role in forcing European policy makes into going along with the aggression against Syria are not being addressed.
Dr. Christof Lehmann, the Founder and Chief Editor for the nsnbc, is also one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.