If one looks closely and deeply enough, one will see clear and unambiguous hints on how the next 50 or so years are being shaped in front of our eyes. A lot has been written already about China’s staggering economic growth (for example), but what about Germany, the core of the European continent? How is it possible that a country can participate in a coup in Ukraine (launching project “anti-Russia”) and shout about “Russian aggression”, but then deeply cooperate with Russia in a pipeline project, even turn its back on the American dictator? It is exactly this topic – today’s German-Russian energy cooperation – that Ivan Danilov, a Russian economics expert, wrote about in his regular column.
After the attempts to block the construction of “Nord Stream-2” failed and the scandal that erupted at the Munich Security Conference, the American discourse about the fate of the Russian gas in Europe began to undergo interesting changes. Former optimism in respect of the opportunity and desirability to squeeze Gazprom out of the European market was replaced with the thesis that Germany intends — and is even almost doomed – to buy more Russian gas regardless of what Donald Trump’s administration thinks or will do about it. It is precisely this “gas inevitability” that the American business information agency “Bloomberg” wrote about.
It has become a custom for the American business media to support American companies and often show not fully justified optimism in respect of describing the great prospects of their sponsors and advertisers. Even more valuable are the rare moments when even the most consistent fans of American liquified natural gas exporters and the efforts of American diplomacy to fight against Russia recognise that the next round of the dragged-out war for the European energy market is actually lost. And confirmation of this is the fact that an explanation for the defeat of the American side that is suitable and not really offensive for American conceit will be found is some kind of bonus. And confirmation, at least at the propaganda level, that our opponents switched from statements about an inevitable victory to explanations that it wasn’t they who lost to Gazprom, but “things just turned out that way”. Or, as the journalists of Bloomberg write, “the climate changed”.
It is necessary to pay tribute to the American journalists: they found a quite elegant way of solving an unpleasant problem — explaining to readers why Angela Merkel persistently defends “Nord Stream-2”, despite Donald Trump’s pressure and the “entire free world”, in passing refusing to make room in the German (and — indirectly — European) energy market for democratic American liquified natural gas. It’s simply not possible to use as an explanation the obvious fact that Russian gas is cheaper. US companies and American investors pay taxes and pump money into lobbying around the world in order to not then later engage in fair competition with Gazprom.
The option of “Angela Merkel is deliberately distancing herself from the United States and promotes European independence from the (almost former) world hegemon” is also unsuitable, because the conclusions that arise from this thesis are absolutely distressing, and not only for Trump’s administration, but also for the future of America in general. By process of elimination, the ideal explanation for German inflexibility concerning the importation of gas from Russia was chosen as… the German love for the environment and green power, which literally pushes Angela Merkel into the arms of the Russian gas giant.
Bloomberg reports: “Gas will be one of the main beneficiaries from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to close coal and nuclear plants, which generate half of the nation’s electricity. While the government is seeking to spur renewables, industry executives, energy forecasters and investors say that more gas will be needed to balance the grid when power flows ebb from wind and solar farms. That outlook helps explain why Merkel is allowing construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia and encouraging new facilities to import liquefied natural gas.”
It follows from this explanation that without Russian pipeline gas, no transition to green power in Germany will happen. And this means that, for the sake of the environment (and for the modern western inhabitant and even businessman, the environment is sacred) it will be forced to put up with “Nord Stream-2” and a sharp reduction in the income of “young Ukrainian democracy” from the transit of Russian gas. Because the environment is much more important than the condition of the Ukrainian budget. It turns out nicely: no conflict along the line Washington-Berlin exists, and there is only the consistent desire of Germany to ensure the implementation of the plan for the transfer of the German economy to green energy, which, as it turns out, cannot function without a so-called backup capacity, which requires enormous volumes of (ideally accessible in terms of price, so, Russian) natural gas. The dirty secret of pure green energy is that it in principle is impractical without a backup capacity, i.e., without conventional energy sources that can be turned on at the snap of the fingers to compensate for the inevitable differences of green energy production.
This shift of rhetoric can have political consequences. If this narrative from Bloomberg becomes the dominant one in the western information field, then it will turn out that supporters of “Nord Stream-2” are not “those who understand Putin”, but fighters for saving the planet from global warming. It cannot but please. It will be absolutely amusing if Russian diplomacy starts to use the same discourse, which will allow, for example, to accuse Donald Trump’s administration of having the desire to ruin the plans for ecological reorganisation in German energy. The slogan “Save the Planet, Buy Gas from Gazprom!” looks quite promising in respect of the international branding of the Russian giant.
If the estimates given in Bloomberg article in respect of the growth of German needs for the importation of natural gas come true at least partially, then it is obvious that in the medium and long term Berlin will ensure a full load for “Nord Stream-2” by analogy with “Nord Stream-1”, despite Trump’s resistance and the directives of the European Commission. However, even in this scenario investors in American liquified natural gas companies can count on a certain positive: US exporters will get that part of the market for which there simply will not be enough Russian gas. A trifle, of course, but Donald Trump will have the chance to give himself good PR thanks to it.
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