Cyprus, Russia, Israel, Mediterranean – Gas

From Xymphora:

‘… Alternative explanations for Cyprus are often gassy:

  1. EU Caught Playing Dirty and it’s all about Russian Gas”
  2. Turkey and Israel about to change the Cyprus gas game?”
  3. “‘Our money’s not in Cyprus’ oligarchs say”
  4. Cyprus Crisis: A Triumph For Russian Isolationists”.

If the Europeans were truly concerned about a Russian monopoly on energy supplies to Europe:

  1. why would they be so keen to sign on to the Zionist boycott of Iran?; and
  2. why would they set up a situation where the Russians had a chance to bail out Cyprus by taking control of the Cyprus gas fields?

Also, if you feel uncomfortable about a Russian monopoly, just wait until you are dependent on Israel for your energy!  Just wait for the taps to be tied to European consent to Jewish human rights abuses.

Milk and honey news: Israeli Gas Field Opens, Setting Stage for Energy Boom” Israel Starts Tamar Gas Production”Lobby’s effort to exempt Israel from sequester gets ‘Israel first’-ers into the lexicon”  “AIPAC takes on the latest threat to Israel — sequestration”  They claim they will spend their new wealth on social programs, which in Israel means illegal settlements and murdering Palestinians…’

 

Why intellectuals in our camp are proud to lose “credibility”

from ASG:

‘Nothing is sillier than when Syrian opposition activists declare that intellectuals in our anti-imperialist camp have “lost credibility” or are “pseudo-intellectual” or “shabiha” or “Hizbullah groupie” or whatever other label that suggests we are not neutral, expecting us to be insulted. When will they ever learn that when we lose the approval of the oppressors of this world, which they call “credibility”, this is a badge of honour for us? When will they learn that if the only genuine intellectuals are those that belong to the establishment and/or are on the Saudi-Qatari payroll, then we are proud to be pseudo-intellectuals?   When will they learn that we do not make pretenses at neutrality like they do but loudly assert our bias towards real freedom, independence and dignity?

When our camp judges their intellectuals, we do not use the White Man’s benchmarks like credibility or neutrality. Arab anti-imperialists merely describe their kind as having been “exposed” [in Arabic, فضح] because in our minds, the only meaningful and morally just criterion is integrity. For when one positions oneself on the same side as America and Saudi Arabia and Israel, what else can this signal but the loss of integrity?’

Brussels Indulges in Trans-Caspian Pipe Dream Again

After the European Commission has finally realized that major investors (RWE) and transit countries (Hungary) are leaving Nabucco, bureaucrats in Brussels are now trying to revitalize a distressed project – the so-called Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Their goal is obvious – to find the lacking resources for a shorter version of Nabucco (the so-called Nabucco-West) and prevent its complete failure. Even in Europe many specialists in energy policy understand that without the gas of five Caspian littoral states including Iran, Nabucco will be a mere show of empty pipeline.

European experts in public relations haven’t given Trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP) project a pretentious brand name yet. And they had very good reasons to be cautious. Negotiations between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and the EU on the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline have been ongoing since the late 90s. Despite extensive talks for more than 10 years, all summits and meetings were inconclusive. The European Union has made no financial commitment to the TCP project. What are the bottlenecks of the controversial pipeline? Why many politicians believe it still remains a distant prospect, not to say just another over-advertized pipe dream of Brussels?

First, legal status of the Caspian is currently unregulated. Therefore, territorial arguments among the littoral states are unavoidable. Even worse, two main stakeholders of the Trans-Caspian project, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, have unresolved disputes concerning gas fields: Baku and Ashgabat disagree over the ownership of the Kapaz/Serdar hydrocarbon deposit, which is needed to fill the pipe. Such issues are not easy to settle in reality, even if the European “big brother” is turning the heat on and demanding to get all the paperwork done in 2013.

Second, even if Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan succumb to the moment and sign a bilateral agreement to please Barroso and Oettinger, any independent analysis must also acknowledge the practical realities of geopolitics. Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran will never sanction the first link of the pipeline to be run under a body of water, because it is unacceptable from an environmental standpoint. The Caspian is a closed system, with no outlets to the world’s oceans. Considering the high seismic activity in the region, the level of potential accident implications of underwater pipeline can be also dramatic. That’s why Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called the prospects for the TCP «very foggy».

Finally, the questions of Turkmenistan’s proven gas reserves and its future market remain open. By the expert assessment of “McKinsey & Company” the biggest Turkmenian “Galkynysh” field falls into the category of “very complicated fields”. Gas production cost will be one of the highest in the world. Turkmenistan is very well aware of all these issues and thus is committed to the principle of realization of the energy resources at its border. It means that the problems of fundraising, security and development for the project automatically become the problems of its partners – Azerbaijan and the European Commission. The market prospects of Turkmenian gas are dubious. Given the ongoing crisis in the eurozone, it will not be easy to the EU to guarantee that it will buy all the gas. Falling energy consumption in Europe due to crisis may also become a factor of economic inconsistency of the TCP.

Moreover, the problem of Turkmen gas brings China into the game, one of its most important consumers. Is there enough gas for both East and West? According to a Chinese diplomat, as quoted by RIA Novosti, «Beijing does not want Turkmenistan to build a pipeline to the European Union, get a different gas price on the European market and then increase it for China. Beijing will do its best to make sure the Trans-Caspian pipeline project is not developed.» And it should be mentioned that China is one of the major investors in Turkmenistan’s economy.

If one considers all these obstacles to the project, it will be easy to understand that as of today the TCP remains nothing more than a topic for endless negotiations and loud statements for all parties involved. The EU is desperately trying to get political leverage against Russia’s ambitious South Stream, Azerbaijan is always ready to negotiate and Turkmenistan wants to secure investments. No more than a game of politics, as always.

source

Europe is desperate, and wants your gas

But not everyone is willing to give it up:

EU, IMF want Cypriot natural gas, but will get nothing – Archbishop of Cyprus

Cypriot’s moneylenders, namely the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, seek to get hold of the natural gas deposits that have recently been discovered south of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, but they will get nothing, the Hierarch of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos, said in a live interview with Cypriot government television.

He admitted that the economic situation in Cyprus is indeed tragic, but if Europe plans to stifle the economy of the insular nation, to prevent Cypriots from living well, it is clearly far better to withdraw from the Eurozone altogether.

Officials of the troika of international moneylenders, namely the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF are currently engaged in intensive talks in Nicosia on the terms of granting loan support to Cyprus.

Cyprus needs up to 17 billion euros, an equivalent of the country’s annual GDP.

Voice of Russia, RIA

 

Why the UK and France are allowed sovereignty but Syria isn’t

From ASG:

Aside from the shameless hypocrisy of the British and French decision to arm the foreign and local terrorists and executioners in Syria, aka, “Syrian rebels” or “resistance fighters” as they are now officially called, another stomach-churning aspect of this joint announcement is the language French and British leaders used to justify their intent to violate the EU arms ban. When asked yesterday if the UK would be willing to break the ban, David Cameron responded “We are still an independent country. We can have an independent foreign policy…” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius responded to the same question today by asserting that “France is a sovereign nation,” adding that both France and were prepared to “lift the embargo” even if there was no international support for the decision. 

So while the White Man’s sovereignty is not dependent on any international consent for its existence, anti-imperialist nations like Syria do not enjoy a similar right to issue such self-proclaimed professions of sovereignty like France can or chart an “independent foreign policy” like Britain’s.  The sovereignty of insubordinate nations like Syria is not merely dependent on the “international community’s” [shorthand for US and Europe] recognition but can be trampled on with impunity and justified in the most counter-intuitive and morally bankrupt terms. More than this, imperialist powers not only get to dictate and violate other nations’ sovereignty, but also to invoke the term as a legal and political defense when rationalizing their own disputed intent to destroy another nation’s right to remain sovereign.   

One need only look up the concept of sovereignty in the White Man’s very own introductory text-books to see how brazenly hypocritical the western approach to Syria’s sovereignty is. Quoting from Michael Roskin et al’s “Political Science: An Introduction”: “Sovereignty means “national control over the country’s territory, boss of one’s own turf. Nations are very jealous of their sovereignty and governments take great care to safeguard it. They maintain armies to deter foreign invasion, they control borders with passports and visas and they hunt down terrorists.”

Yet bizarrely,  when a state like Syria which still enjoys [international] legal sovereignty and has a seat at the UN,  tries to reassert “control of its territory” and “be the boss of its own turf” by “hunting down terrorists” and foreign fighters, it is not merely denied this right but threatened with invasion and punished with externally funded, armed and trained proxies. But what else can the Empire do when its ultimate aim is not  regime change  but to strip the Syrian state itself of sovereignty by plunging it further into an endless and bloody civil war that can only result in the destruction of Syria the state?

Iraq and Iran’s Oil Pipeline Politics

by: Elie Chalhoub, Al Akhbar English

Published Thursday, March 14, 2013

Away from the region’s headlines and wars, plans are being methodically put in place that could redraw the strategic map of the Middle East, erasing one of the region’s key colonial-era features.

Recent moves by Iran and Iraq to press ahead with the construction of a series of new oil and gas export pipelines could be attributed to Iran’s bid to counter international sanctions. The planned pipelines could also reflect Iraq’s economic recovery or perhaps pressure from oil companies for new export routes.

There may be some truth to these explanations. But a closer look makes clear that these schemes are related.

The short-term aims are evident. They include trying to lure Jordan into the region’s “resistance” axis and reducing American influence on Iran’s eastern neighbor Pakistan.

But the long-term objective is more ambitious: to connect the Middle East by way of a web of economic ties that binds them into a regional partnership whose mainstays are Iran and Iraq.

Baghdad is making it increasingly clear where it stands in terms of its regional alignment. In recent months, it has openly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, clashed with Ankara, reached out to Cairo, and been at odds with Riyadh and Doha.

The pipeline schemes also underscore Iraq’s chosen course. The country has opted to assume a role consistent with its historical legacy and its economic and strategic clout.

Iran Lures Pakistan

The latest move in this regard was Monday’s pipeline inauguration by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The pipeline will transport Iranian natural gas to Asian markets via Pakistani territory, providing Pakistan with desperately needed energy supplies.

Negotiations between the two countries began almost a decade ago, but were frequently stalled due to opposition from the US. Washington has long sought to thwart any scheme for transporting oil and gas from or through Iran.During that period, Iran completed its section of the pipeline from the Pars gas field in the south of the country to the Pakistani border town of Multan. It has a capacity of 750 million cubic meters per day.

Tehran has undertaken to cover a third of the $1.5 billion cost of the 780-km Pakistani section of the pipeline, with the Pakistani government funding the rest.

Wooing Jordan and Egypt

Meanwhile, Iraq and Jordan have begun work on building parallel oil and gas pipelines connecting southern Iraq to the Red Sea port of Aqaba, with the possibility of extending the link to Egypt.

The 1,690-km line, which will take two to three years to complete, is to run from Basra to Haditha west of Baghdad then into Jordanian territory and south to Aqaba. Contracts for the Jordanian portion are to be awarded to companies on a build-operate-transfer basis, with ownership reverting to the Iraqi government after 20 years.

Under the agreement, the oil pipeline will provide Jordan with 150,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day for domestic use at preferential prices (around $20 dollars per barrel below market). Apart from putting an end to Jordan’s chronic fuel crises, the scheme is expected to benefit the country to the tune of $3 billion per year.

A planned second phase of the project envisions the building of a western spur from Haditha through Syrian territory to pump 1.25 million barrels of oil per day to the Syrian Mediterranean port of Banias.

Sustaining Syria

Meanwhile, plans are being developed for a 5,000-km link to transport Iranian gas to Iraq and Syria and on into Europe, providing Iran with an export route that bypasses the Gulf.

Iran and Iraq are due to sign an agreement on the first phase of the project on 20 March. This would enable Iran to pump 25 million cubic meters of gas a day to Iraq. Proposed extensions to the line envision it supplying Jordan and Lebanon with gas.

Iran shares the Pars field – the world’s largest gas field with an estimated 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, around 8 percent of total proven world reserves – with Qatar. The emirate recently unveiled its own plans for a pipeline to carry gas through Saudi, Jordanian, Syrian and Turkish territory to Europe.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.