The US Invented a New “Nord Stream 2” Killer

Despite all the attempts to convince the public of developed countries of the uselessness of traditional concepts of the industrial era due to the transition to post-industrial society, the US continues to lose out to the multiplication table. This is visually confirmed by the current results of the economic war with China. Being faced with the impossibility of quickly bring back industry from there, Washington in every way tries to start a new stage of global colonisation, having now aimed at Europe.

But here the energy carriers, which are the cornerstone of any large-scale industry, are a stumbling block. Ideally they have to be only American. However, Russia has more gas, first of all, and secondly, it is located much closer to European consumers. In addition, geographical conditions allow to transport it along a pipe , which is essentially (in some places 40%) cheaper than to liquefy it, transport it across the ocean by ships, and then regasify it.

Like in the trade war with China, the Americans also lose the gas standoff with the Russian Federation. Because the mathematics is the same for everyone, and it turns out to not be in Washington’s favour. But the US can’t recognise defeat either. This will firstly mean the definitive loss of the American domination in Europe, and then its inevitable economic integration with Russia.

And since politics always follows from the economy, eventually, the expansion of trade interrelations at the base of an industrial pyramid will inevitably also lead to the warming of political relations between the EU and the Russian Federation, which America doesn’t need for all the tea in China. Is it worth being surprised at the US’ attempts to find some alternative solution capable of at least seriously slowing down Russian gas expansion to Europe , or even better – to stop it altogether?

At one time these guys place a key stake on the so-called Southern gas corridor, which promised the transfer of huge gas reserves from the Caspian region through Azerbaijan and Turkey bypassing the Black Sea to Europe. But the gamble didn’t pay off. Instead of a theoretically promised 150 billion cubic meters (a third of the EU’s total gas import), so far only 10 have been pumped along the pipe.

Moreover, not over the 6 billion that was initially promised to Turkey. And in general, this gas hasn’t yet reached the European hubs. Italy, which is responsible for a final leg of the route, still can’t decide if it needs the Azerbaijani gas or not.

But the Americans don’t give up. They now start to promote a new project under the name EastMed (Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline Project). Yes, exactly that – a project, because affairs weren’t able to go beyond the naked idea, including because of the frank illusoriness of the initial promise.

The matter is the following. Geological exploration found serious gas reserves, condensed gas, and oil in the East Mediterranean. As is usually the case, in the immediately created wave of media euphoria the real figures quickly started to be mixed up with all sorts of forecasts, usually always promising mountains of gold. The result was the impression that literally almost in the backyard of Europe there was an endless gas field that could provide Europe with fuel for at least 50, if not 80 years.

The latter was especially pleasant for Greece, Israel, and Cyprus, which immediately saw fantastic financial and geopolitical prospects personally for themselves. The US immediately tried to take advantage of the process of materialising the dream, offering them investments and technologies.

In order to turn the dream into something concrete, on August 7th 2019 an energy conference in the format 3+1 was organised in Athens. Three Mediterranean countries (Minister of the Environment and Energy Kostis Hatzidakis, Minister of Energy, Trade and Commerce of Cyprus Georgios Lakkotrypis, Minister of Energy of Israel Yuval Steinitz), in the exclusive economic zones of which the field is supposedly located, plus the Assistant US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon.

At the conference the participants decided to expand cooperation and to create a standing technical committee aimed, among other things, at bringing the conditions necessary for the implementation of the East Mediterranean gas pipeline project (EastMed), involving the transportation of gas from the coasts of Israel and Cyprus through the Greek waters to Italy. Its pumping volumes, of course, are supposed to immediately make the Russian “Nord Stream-2” resolutely unnecessary for Europe.

There are precisely three amusing moments in this story. Firstly, in terms of its meaning, it exactly copies the “Southern gas corridor”, which fifteen years ago was also presented as the guaranteed murderer of Russian gas expansion. The numbers were pulled from thin air, and any “maybe” was interpreted strictly in favour of guaranteeing the success of the project.

With EastMed the situation is even more cheerful, since in their performances, representatives of the US don’t hide that the hope of all calculations is based on the expectation that limitless gas reserves will be found in the Cyprus-Syria-Israel triangle.

Secondly, all the participants of the new party explicitly ignore the current political reality. At least regarding the current unresolved status of Cyprus, at the moment divided between Cyprus itself and the little recognised, but physically existing Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which also lays claim to its slice of the natural resources adjacent to the island.

Moreover, these guys are trying to exclude the interests of Turkey from consideration, not without grounds laying claim to a significant role in the region, and therefore a share of its riches. Not to mention its own constantly growing internal need for energy carriers.

Well and thirdly, the three Mediterranean countries, plus the Americans, take Italy’s consent to join in as a recipient of gas for Europe as something self-evident. And this is despite the fact that it still has no final position on the “Southern gas corridor”, the official date of completion of work on which is two years away. In principle at the site across the Adriatic Sea the work should already be in full swing, but in fact there is still a long way to go. Why Rome has to treat the new project somehow essentially differently remains a mystery.

And in these conditions the western press starts to make a lot of nouse about the definite coming end of the Russian “northern streams”. What here can be said? To dream, of course, is beautiful. Except for that in Russia the pipeline stops being built in reality, whereas the Americans have only just started to dream about EastMed.

Aleksandr Zapolskis

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