Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gazprom Announces Final Nail In South Stream Coffin, Saudi Arabia In Oil-Price War With Iran, Russia

Gazprom Announces Final Nail In South Stream Coffin

Europe will have to get gas via Turkey or Ukraine, there will be no direct transcontinental pipeline to Europe, Gazprom has confirmed. It is disappointing news for Bulgaria, which was hoping to get gas directly from Russia, and not via Ukraine.
Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller made it clear that Turkey, and not Bulgaria, will become the main gas valve between Russia and Europe.
“South Stream is dead. For Europe there will be no other gas transit options to risky Ukraine other than the new ‘Turkish Stream’ pipeline,” Miller said Wednesday, as reported by RIA Novosti.
"Now, the ‘Turkish Stream’ on the agenda," he emphasized.

EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic was in Moscow Wednesday to discuss EU energy security and the fate of South Stream with Miller and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
Gazprom's decision to create ‘Turkish Stream’ will damage to the company’s image, according to the Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic.
Ahead of the meeting, Bulgaria expressed optimism that it would reach a solution with Moscow on South Stream.
In the wake of the South Stream closure, the European Commission is supporting Bulgaria’s proposal to build a gas storage hub. At present Bulgaria only has a big enough gas hub to hold 2 months’ consumption.
“I really hope we’ll be able to find the right solution, especially after the visit to Moscow; the right solution as far as the gas hub is concerned or the continuation of the work on South Stream,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said in Brussels on Tuesday, Bloomberg News reports.
Russia stopped deliveries to Europe in 2006 and 2009 over disputes with Ukraine.
Bulgaria lost more than 6,000 new jobs and over $3 billion of investment with the cancellation of the project. The country also receives 90 percent of its gas imports from Russia, the majority of which crosses through Ukraine, which is seen as an energy risk.
The parties agreed to hold a future trilateral meeting between Russia, EU, and Ukraine in Sofia.
Russia pulled the plug on the project to Europe in December after standoffs with Brussels over the placement of the pipeline in Bulgaria, the first land section of the pipeline. It would have pumped 63 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe annually.

Russia will instead build an alternative pipeline using funds and materials intended for the original South Stream project. Europe will have to buy gas at the Turkish border. It will across the Black Sea to Turkey and be able to pump 63 billion cubic meters a year.

Saudi Arabia is extending its own international jihad not only through its export of Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islam.

The Islamic kingdom is now going after Russia, a main backer of the kingdom’s sectarian opponent, Shiite Iran, by targeting its oil production clout to adversely impact the Russian economy.

Sources say the United States might even be colluding with Saudi Arabia to cause a dramatic drop in the international oil price in an effort to punish Russia not only for its support of rebels in Ukraine but for its backing of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as Iran.
The Saudi strategy is to flood the international market to harm the economies of Russia and Iran, both of which need the international price to be above $100 a barrel to break even. The price of oil today is less than $50 a barrel.

By maintaining higher oil production and consequently driving down the international oil price, the Saudis hope to recapture market share that it has lost to Russia and Iran, its main competitors.
However, Saudi interest isn’t restricted to economic competition. There also are geopolitical and geostrategic considerations.
In September, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi King Abdullah and worked out a deal that the U.S. would work to topple Syria’s Assad in exchange for Riyadh joining the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
In such a deal, the Saudis then not only would topple Assad, a Shiite-Alawite allied with Iran, but also impede goal of its Islamic rival to create a Shiite crescent from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
A proposed $10 billion pipeline that has been in the planning stages since 2011 would help solidify a Shiite crescent. The pipeline would originate in Iran, go through Iraq and Syria, a “predominantly Shiite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord,” as Middle East expert Pepe Escobar described it.
In addition, the Canadian-based Global Research think tank said Assad in 2009 had refused to allow Qatar, a Saudi ally, to construct a natural gas pipeline from its North Field to go through Syria then into Turkey and onward to Europe.
According to Global Research, this turndown, combined with the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, “ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power.”

Even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged recently that the dramatic drop in oil prices has been “politically motivated” and called it a “conspiracy.”
This same political conspiracy also extends to Russia, which has invested billions of dollars in economic and military assistance over the years to Syria and also is a close ally of Iran, where it has built the Bushehr nuclear reactor, with at least two more planned for construction.
Just as the Saudis have been vehemently opposed to Russia’s aid to Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin has the daggers out for Saudi backing and apparent control over the Chechen jihadi fighters who continue to launch attacks in the country and are providing assistance to the Syrian opposition.
With Saudi manipulation of the oil price, the Russians not only are reeling from this development, but the low prices come at a time when Western sanctions are hitting the Russian economy.
The cumulative effect of these developments are causing the Russian economy to go into recession, prompting Moscow to call on the Russian population to stay calm.
Because Russia has some $400 billion in foreign exchange reserves, it’s in little danger of a total economic collapse, although the Russian private sector which suffer the most impact with its reported $700 billion in debt.
The impact on possible Saudi manipulation of oil prices to impact the Russian economy also is having an effect on Putin’s plan to develop the Eurasian Economic Union, or EEU, in competition with the U.S. and the European Union.
The Eurasia Union now has four countries – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgzystan and Kazakhstan – designed to offer a customs-free region that, with the possible addition of other countries in the region, would approximate the former Soviet Union.
Russia had designs of Ukraine also joining the EEU, but portions of the country balked, leading last year to the crisis that prompted the ouster of the pro-Moscow president and Russia, in turn, taking over the Crimea, which historically has been of strategic value for its Black Sea fleet.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed crimes against humanity comparable to those behind the Paris attacks that left 17 dead.
“Netanyahu has committed crimes against humanity the same like those terrorists who carried out the Paris massacre,” he told reporters in televised comments, pointing to the deadly 2010 Israeli assault on a Turkish vessel trying to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and last year’s Israel-Hamas war. Israeli naval commandos opened fire, killing nine Turkish nationals, when they were attacked with clubs and poles on the deck of the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 incident.

“Just as the massacre in Paris committed by terrorists is a crime against humanity, Netanyahu, as the head of the government that kills children playing on the beach with the bombardment of Gaza, destroys thousands of homes … and that massacred our citizens on an aid ship in international waters, has committed crimes against humanity,” Davutoglu said.
The remarks came as part of the latest round in a series of snipes between Israeli and Turkish officials.

The destruction wreaked by Islamist militants in Nigeria when they slaughtered an estimated 2,500 people including a woman while she was in labour has been revealed in shocking new satellite images. 
Terror group Boko Haram outraged the world last week when they indiscriminately murdered innocent men, women and children as they attacked the towns of Baga and Doron Baga.
Now, new images obtained by Amnesty International show how the towns were devastated by the assault - with more than 3,700 structures including houses and schools completely destroyed. 

In the pictures taken beforehand, the areas in red show buildings and trees in the densely packed towns in the north of the country.
But in the pictures taken after the massacre, they have been decimated and the infra-red satellite images instead reveal grey areas where the militants savagely razed the towns.
The destruction shown in these images matches the horrific stories from eyewitnesses revealing how Boko Haram militants shot hundreds of civilians in cold blood.
One witness described how the ruthless terror group were shooting indiscriminately, killing even small children and a woman who was in labour.
He added: 'Half of the baby boy is out and she died like this.'
Ibrahim Gambo, a 25-year-old truck driver, survived the relentless attack in Baga but he still doesn't know if his wife and daughter are safe.
He said: 'As we were running for our lives, we came across many corpses, both men and women, and even children.
'Some had gunshot wounds in the head and some had their legs bound and hands tied behind their backs.'
Yahaya Takakumi, a 55-year-old farmer, revealed to Nigeria's Premium Times how he managed to flee Baga with one of his wives - but does not know if his four children, his second wife or his elder brother managed to escape. 

Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International, said this was the 'largest and most destructive' Boko Haram assault his organisation has ever analysed.
He added: 'These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days. 
'It represents a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out ruins.

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