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Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani is the senior editor with Trend News Agency and is a journalist, author and political analyst based in Baku, specializing in the Middle…

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Europe Needs A New Source of Oil and Gas, Fast

Europe Needs A New Source of Oil and Gas, Fast

Summer is over and many Europeans may have to keep warm this coming winter by thinking about their summer holidays while wrapped in blankets, praying for a short winter or for the world to come to its senses. It both cases, they may well be disappointed.

The never-ending conflicts in the Middle East, mayhem in Libya, uncertainty in the Gulf and a war in Ukraine are all going to take a toll on the energy supplies this winter.

Russia sold 86 billion cubic meters of gas last year, all of which passed through Ukraine. Given what’s happening there now, it is highly unlikely that the Russians would allow their gas to transit a country they are (unofficially) at war with. Just as it is unlikely that Ukrainians would allow Russian gas access through its territory.

Result? Many cold Europeans, many angry Europeans and many very pissed off Europeans. Many Europeans will have to make do without enough gas to heat homes, offices and factories. That’s a bad prospect in northern European countries, where winter is no laughing matter. Winter defeated the armies of both Napoleon and Hitler.

And what does history tell us about cold, angry, pissed-off Europeans? Well, whenever two opposing camps got cold, angry and pissed off enough at each other in the past, they typically went to war.

War in Europe? In our time?

It’s not impossible. If current trends continue, it is not at all impossible. Here’s why:

1. Mounting tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine -- a situation that is very likely to worsen as the United States and European Union tighten sanctions on Moscow.

2. NATO forces edging dangerously close to Russian forces.

3. The spread of the violence and reach of the Islamic State. Besides the havoc they are creating in the region, there is the added threat of hundreds, if not thousands, of their supporters who have learned how to fight in Syria and Iraq returning to their home countries in Europe.

4. Turkey, which in recent years has played a stabilizing role in the region, is moving today in a different direction that could well lead to a new point of conflict.  From jumping head first into the Middle East conundrum under former prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s new prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, started off by possibly igniting a new fight when he announced -- much to the pleasure of Azerbaijan, and certainly to the dismay of Armenia -- that “the liberation of occupied Azerbaijani lands would be a strategic goal for Turkey.”

These remarks refer to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and outlying areas that have been occupied by Armenia since a violent conflagration around the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Armenians and Azerbaijani troops have been engaging in exchanges of fire on a daily basis over the past few months.

5: Mounting tension between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and an unnamed former Soviet republic in the region that Iran says allowed Israel to launch a drone from its territory to spy on Iran. Tehran has promised a stern response. The country in question is thought to be Azerbaijan, Armenia or Turkmenistan.

6. Continued mayhem in Libya, where the political turmoil is affecting the flow of oil and gas to Europe.

7. The continued state of unrest in Israel/Gaza and the surrounding area.

All these points of conflict are complicating Europe’s search for more reliable sources of energy. Europe is hoping to solve its gas shortage problems by purchasing Azerbaijani gas, but it’s unrealistic to depend only on Azerbaijani gas, since Europeans would be at the mercy of interruptions to gas and oil flows from this South Caucasus country.


What Europe desperately needs is a source of energy that with not be interrupted by conflict or politics, that can be delivered via pipeline or by sea, but will not need to transit through sea lanes in areas of conflict.

And although EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said last week that he is not worried about gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine, that show of confidence did not stop him from going to Moscow to plead Europe’s case with the Russians.

So where does that leave the Europeans other than out in the cold? Trend energy analyst Vagif Sharifov believes the new bonanza of natural gas lies in the Arctic, where more than 1,500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas can be found.

But polar drilling comes with a high cost and huge challenges. Europe might need to keep looking.

By Claude Salhani of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • decent on September 05 2014 said:
    It is quite obvious. It is ok to use neighbours energy resources for diversification, but it is dangerous to depend on them.
    Answer is more heat pumps, more wind&solar; energy, more nuclear energy, more electric cars.
    It is expensive of course. But dependance on unreliable energy sources are even more dangerous when you suddenly discover that your home is cold and car is standing still.
    I personally have a good old wood stove as a backup. Never threw it out.
  • Alex on September 05 2014 said:
    If you know history and geography (not like Mr. Obama!), you would
    not mind that USSR and Russia were reliable source of gas to Europe!
    And Ukraine last 20 years was UNRELIABLE transit state! Kiev did not pay for
    the gas, it was the real reason for unreliability of the gas transit from Russia to
    I understand US wants to separate Europe from Russia, to weaken Europe, to sign
    the Free Trade Agreement with Europe . US needs to support US dollar as well. So we see the war in Ukraine: it is good for Washington!
    Look, what's about MH017 ?! I wander if CIA and Pentagon have the proofs it was
    Russia behind this accident?! For sure if they have they would publish them immediately! But the sanctions against Russia were accepted after this crash, and now Washington does not care about MH017 accident!
  • Martin H. Katchen on September 05 2014 said:
    Whatever happened to those large oilfields in Albania? And what about oil exploration in the Mediterranean? Cyrpus and Israel can surely make up part of the slack via the Leviathan field. And there are likely other deepwater oil prospects in the Ionian and Tyrhennian Seas.
  • Andrey Palyura on September 07 2014 said:
    Really nice article, Claude!
    And the answer to the problem mentioned is "South Stream". EU put put itself in position of dependence on Ukrainian permanet turmoils (since 2004) not allowing to build independent South Stream by Russians on Russian money. Other way it is possible that many europeneans would need "a good old wood stove as a backup".
  • Holger Schneider on October 03 2014 said:
    I think Claudes article is a bit theoretically.
    As for mine he should also mention that not only Europe
    needs oil and gas but Russia also urgently needs the payments for that.

    H. Schneider
  • Tom Pendergast on November 15 2014 said:
    Hi Claude Salhani!

    Your writing is most refreshing and informative. I wish I had known of you long ago!

    As to the comments from your readers of this article, I found Martin Katchen's most interesting re Albania and the Leviathon field as well as that of Andrey Palyura's on South Stream. I look forward to your touching on these subjects in the future.
  • lori on January 26 2015 said:
    We (USA) could send what our oil companies routinely flare off over to Europe, but the white mosque won't do it.

Leave a comment

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