US, Russia Compete for EU Natural Gas Market

The global markets for natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are currently seeing an increase in the number of new producers. Natural gas’ geopolitical importance is also on the rise and it will increase its share of the energy basket of countries by 2040 as countries with natural gas resources seek to increase their share of the LNG market. The share of natural gas and volatile energy in the global energy market rises every day. In 2016, LNG’s contribution to the global gas market was 42 percent, and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), will reach 53 percent in 2040.

Of countries that export LNG, Qatar has the largest export share. In 2017, of 264 million tons produced in the world, 77 million tons came from Qatar. Currently, countries such as Australia, Russia, the U.S. and Mozambique have made huge investments in to increase their market share. In the shadow of the shale gas revolution and technology and innovation, the U.S. has quickly become one of the largest manufacturers of LNG, which will soon play an important role in the security of energy in the European Union and East Asian countries.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has not taken place without considering the opportunity to export more energy resources. The United States uses energy exports, especially LNG, to expand its relations with its neighbors and allies everywhere. The energy security of the European Union and its strong dependence on Russian gas have led the United States to take a special look at the European Union energy market, and with the increase in LNG exports and the accelerated construction of the Southern Corridor, gas will require the EU to depend on Russia. Looking at the state of import of Iranian oil and gas condensate from Iran, the U.S. LNG role could be furthered in a boycott of Iran.

The geopolitical dimensions

Energy geopolitics is changing. The shale gas revolution and innovative high technology has enabled the U.S. to become a giant energy exporter. Energy exports play an import role in U.S. foreign policy, and the U.S. is using energy exports to expand relationships with allies. This important step was due to improving its infrastructure, including the development of gas pipelines and LNG facilities for export.

Russia is not interested in losing the EU market and is trying to keep its share in the EU market by diversifying transit pipelines and LNG projects such as Turk Stream and North Stream II. Gazprom also has several pipelines currently in operation or under construction with European energy companies. Gazprom is also preparing a Turk Stream pipeline to transfer Russian gas through the Black Sea to Turkey and southeastern Europe. The U.S. has many times officially declared that it is against North Stream II; this project has been heavily criticized in Europe and the United States, and the German “Trump,” Russia’s largest captive foreign gas buyer, has been “captured” by Russia.

According to Dan Brouillette, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, North Stream II will increase the dependence of Germany and Europe on Russian gas, but recently Germany has decided to help finance the final installations for importing liquefied natural gas that will reduce this dependence.

In October 2018, the largest volume of gas went to Europe, about 24 percent of total [U.S.] LNG: 0.6 billion cubic meters. By 2017, only 10 percent of LNG gas was exported to the European Union. The European Union Energy Commission expects U.S. exports and facilities for LNG terminals to double throughout Europe by 2022. “The fact is that American LNGs can play a more competitive role in supplying gas, increasing the diversity and security of energy in the future,” said the European Union on LNG trade between the United States and Europe in late November.

 

Qatar’s Plan

Early in January, Qatar’s energy minister told Reuters last year, Qatar’s petroleum company plans to invest at least $20 billion in the United States over the next few years and is expected to make its final decision on the LNG terminal concerning the Golden Pass of Texas soon. Qatar is also planning to invest in Germany and export LNG to Germany. According to Qatari officials, it will invest €10 billion in the German economy, which could be the continuation of successful Qatari investments in Germany.

Washington has been encouraging European countries to diversify Russian-dominated energy supplies, with Qatar and the U.S. as possible alternative suppliers. It is in the U.S.’ interest to allow Qatar to export to specific markets. Doha’s supplies play a key role in Washington’s strategy of providing balance in the market.

At present, Qatari gas is a lot more competitive in Europe than U.S. gas. U.S. officials are aware that U.S. LNG is not competitive with Qatar LNG in EU market but what is important for the U.S. is to decrease the dependency of the EU on Russian natural gas and Gazprom’s monopoly in the EU market.

Increasing LNG supplies is the best way to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas. Qatar is a major LNG provider and is trying to increase its share in the market. Russia is trying to keep its monopoly in Europe – in energy – and has used different pricing strategies to do this. Russia has sold a stake of its shares in Rosneft to Qatar, as Doha battles a blockade from a Saudi-led coalition. Russia is using a different pricing system in the EU market and has multiplied pipelines and LNG projects to increase and keep its share in EU natural gas market. It is expected that the EU natural gas market will bring a new competition era for the U.S. and Russia. In the short term and midterm, Russia will keep its share in the EU natural gas market, but if in the long term U.S. LNG can compete with Russia gas and Qatar LNG, it would be in favor of the EU as a consumer, and major LNG producers are trying to propose suitable prices to keep or maybe increase their share in the EU market.
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US Wants Europe to Use Qatar Gas Instead of Russian Supplies

The US wants European countries to find other gas suppliers to Russia, with resource-rich Qatar as a possible alternative.

Deputy US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Reuters that Washington was in talks with Doha to supply gas to Europe, and particularly countries that are reliant on Russian gas.

Russian gas accounts for around 60 percent of Berlin’s gas imports, with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline set to double Moscow’s export capacity to Germany.
US President Donald Trump has warned Germany that it would be “captive” to Russia if it relied on it as a gas supplier and urged Berlin to halt work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The move could see German companies face US sanctions.

Brouillette said he has held talks Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi about whether Doha could be an alternative gas supplies to Europe.

“We are talking to Minister Kaabi here about other markets, specifically Europe, to the extent that we can talk to the Qataris about supplying European markets with natural gas,” he said in an interview.
“They are very much interested in that and so are we – it’s very connected to deliberations with others we have around Nord Stream 2.”

He added that Qatar could help diversify the gas market in Europe, particularly with Doha’s investments in LNG export facilities.

“It is good for the national security of Europe. Cheap gas comes at a high price of freedom,” said Brouillette.

Last September, Qatar said it would invest $11.6 billion in Germany over the next five years including in a LNG terminal.

Omid Shokri Kalehsar, a Washington-based senior energy security analyst, told The New Arab that Washington has been encouraging European countries to diversify Russian-dominated energy supplies, with Qatar and the US as possible alternative suppliers.

“It is in the US’ interest allow Qatar to export to specific markets,” said Kalehsar, saying Doha’s supplies play a key role in Washington’s strategy of providing balance in the market.

“Increasing LNG supplies is the best way to reduce [Europe’s] dependency on Russian natural gas…. Qatar is a major LNG provider and is trying to increase its share in the market. Russia is trying to keep its monopoly in Europe – with energy – and has used different pricing strategies to do this.”

Russia has sold a stake of its shares in Rosneft to Qatar, as Doha battles a blockade from a Saudi-led coalition.
Turkey is also boosting its relationship with Russia with the construction of the TurkStream pipelines.

https://www.alaraby.co.uk

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Qatar’s Withdrawal from OPEC not a Good Sign

 

As Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC takes effect today, the geopolitics of energy is changing. Each major energy producer is trying to take more shares in the world energy market. Political tensions between major oil and gas producers would affect regional and world energy markets. As the world’s largest exporter of LNG, Qatar gets the most revenue from it.

U.S. sanctions against Iran give an opportunity to Saudi Arabia which can use its producing capacity to produce and export more oil in the region in an attempt to weaken Iran’s position in OPEC.

A high oil price is not good for major oil consumers. The world oil market has been worrying about U.S.’sanctions against Iran.Regional tensions are one of the factors affecting members of the international organization. The tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which began in June 2017, would prevent Qatar from withdrawing from Saudi Arabia’s shadow even in an organization like OPEC. Qatar with production of 0.6 million bpd is not a major actor among OPEC members.

 

After a sharp rise in the price of crude oil to more than 100 U.S. dollars between 2011 and 2012, the price of crude oil gradually shrank in 2016 and reached a low of less than 40 dollars. The organization was unable to find a solution for the crisis, which had a huge impact on its member states.

Oil producers were able to cut crude prices to 70 dollars a barrel in mid-2018 with a drop in supply. But once again the policy of the largest oil producer Saudi Arabia, along with the White House’s political and economic measures and the gap in the queue of supporters for a reduction in production, led to a sharp drop in crude oil to about 50 dollars.

In a situation where the future of oil demand is not clear in the long run, the market management method and the call for Russia to counterbalance the U.S. are also challenges to OPEC.

South Pars Gas field (North Dome) shared by Iran and Qatar is a major source of Qatar LNG production. It is the largest gas field in the world. Qatar has made it clear that by 2024 it would have used South Pars to produce 110 million tons per year.

At present, Qatar produces 77 million tons per year. Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC is a good opportunity to increase its production from this shared filed, Iran is unable to attract more foreign technology and financial investment and Qatar’s oil production in South Pars is more than that of Iran.

According to Reuters in November, Australia grabbed the world’s biggest LNG exporter crown from Qatar in November. According to statistics, Australia produced 6.8 million tons of LNG in November, out of which 0.6 million tons were exported from Qatar.

Australia’s LNG exports rose by 19 percent in November compared to October while Qatar’s exports dropped 3 percent in November compared to the previous month, the country’s fourth consecutive decline for the year in exports.

It is not the first time that an OPEC member has withdrawn from the organization. The main point is that OPEC’s decisions are not followed by major oil suppliers and Qatar’s withdrawal is certainly not good for OPEC. As Qatar is not a major oil producer among OPEC members, it cannot cause any major changes in the oil price.

The major factor in the oil market is demand and supply. At present, the oil market is faced with oversupply which leads to a low oil price. Qatar’s withdrawal from OPEC is not a good sign for its future. If OPEC is interested in playing an important role in the world oil market, it needs cooperation and coherence among all members.

If major members continue to be inefficient in OPEC decision-making, there will not be a promising future for the organization. OPEC’s weak position favors major energy consumers. Obviously, OPEC does not have the same influence on oil prices as it used to be. Its strength has slowly weakened due to the growth of producers such as the United States and Russia.

 

https://news.cgtn.com

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Challenges and Opportunities for Russia-Iranian Energy Relations in the Post Sanctions Era

Given several large Russian companies find themselves facing US sanctions they no longer face any further fall-out from working reliably in Iran. Indeed, Russian companies may continue their business in Iran’s oil, gas, and nuclear sectors unimpeded having already adapted to whatever curtailments have been inflicted upon them by US measures.

The purchase of Iranian oil by Russia is a significant aspect of the oil co-operation agreement struck between the two countries. At a meeting convened between Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and Russia’s Energy Minister, Alexander Novak in late December 2016, Iran agreed that a Russian company would sell Iranian oil, with 50% of profits handed to Russia in cash in Iran, and another 50% spent on purchasing goods and services from Russia to be put into operation in Iran.

Russia evidently desires a place in Iran’s oil industry. As the presidential aide, Yuri Ushakov recently stated, the country’s oil and gas companies are looking to invest in as much as a total of $50 billion to develop Iranian oil and gas fields. In his view, energy is the most promising area for cooperation between Russia and Iran; with leading Russian oil and gas companies such as Gazprom, Gazprom Oil, Rosneft, Zarubenzabad and Tatneft all having shown an active interest.

 

Russian firms’ withdrawal from Iran considering US withdrawal from JCPOA

 

Lukoil has joined others to halt activities in Iran since the departure of the US. The company had signed a mutually agreed partnership for the development of the Ab-Teymor oil field with Denmark’s Mersec, and the Indonesian Petrogas Vitamin Corporation.Regarding the company’s plans for the Iranian gas industry, the Deputy Chairman Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, stated that “Gazprom is interested in cooperating with Iran from the beginning to the end of the gas value chain and plans to help in exploration, production, gas, LNG production, and gas supply through various pipelines, including those leading to India.”

After the nuclear agreement, Russia’s Zarubzhanov Corporation (with an 80% share), along with Dana Energy (with a 20% shareholding), signed a $742 million contract for the sustainable development of the West and Aban Oil Fields in Ilam province in partnership with the National Iranian Oil Company. The contract is set to stand for 10 years and can be renewed for up to 20. The combined production of these two fields is expected to increase by 67 million barrels over the next 10 years.

While Ali Akbar Velayati , an advisor to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, has said that Russian companies are ready to invest in the Iranian oil and gas industry by as much as $50 billion, one Kremlin spokesman has denied these statements, and the Russian Energy Minister has claimed that purchasing Iranian oil may have a negative consequence on Russian industries. At present, trade volume between Iran and Russia values just $2.2 billion, however, both countries hold a potential to increase their trade volume. Iran and Russia are both interested in increasing trade to $10 billion dollars in the short term. The question remains, none-the-less, as to whether Russia’s overtures in Iran amount to nothing short of investment.

Oil for food trade

During the last sanctions regime, both countries signed an agreement to sell Iranian oil to Russia in return for goods and technology. By importing 500 000 barrels of oil a day from Iran, Russian not only parted with no money, but were able to sell more of their goods to Iran. Also, since Iran’s oil is not compatible with oil refineries in Europe – or even most within Russia – this oil was most likely transferred from Russia to China, Iran’s largest oil market, other countries in the South or East Asia. In this way, Russia was thus able to expand its own oil relations.

Iran’s strategy of signing contracts for oil development with Russia is not unwise given the absence of any other serious player. Rouhani’s government has been weak in the development of oil fields over the past five years. It is true that his cause should be sought through foreign policy and an attempt to ease the pressure of the United States, but, in any case, its outcome has been detrimental. Russian companies have the technology needed to increase the recovery rate of Iranian oil reservoirs. The Oil Ministry is keen to allow oil companies in Europe, Russia, China, Asia, and even the Americas (Americans are currently barred) to get involved in the development of Iranian oil fields.

Oil exports are the result of production, minus domestic consumption, however, oil production in Iran is gradually decreasing as a result of the decline in the production of the reservoir. The drop in the production of Iranian oil reserves is currently around 8%. The biggest issue regarding Chinese and Russian investment in the Iranian energy industry after the lifting of sanctions would be the terms of the contracts concluded – namely, the duration of these contracts, and the amount of contracts and technology used in these oil and gas fields, not to mention conditions which increase the likelihood of companies to bow to US pressures To abandon Iranian projects.

Considering developments in the energy market more broadly, and the effect US sanctions will have upon it, attracting foreign investment and technology to the Iranian energy industry will be much harder to achieve. Achieving the goals of Iran’s sixth development plan and vision document is possible only through foreign investment, which requires a reduction of political risk in the country through a more engaging foreign policy and greater consideration of legal mechanisms to assure foreign investors.

For the foreseeable future, however, it looks as though talks will remain at the macro level until a deal has been signed. Although details of the $50 billion investment of Russian oil and gas companies in Iran have yet to be determined, this would provide a sigh of relief for the country’s industry. Many insist that such an investment would not equate to dependency on Russia. One expert has stated that “The Iranian oil and gas facilities and resources are so broad that even if $50 billion of capital is from companies Iran’s oil industry is not looking for a mere dependence on a country. The Russians will be brought to Iran; but there will be plenty of work remaining that will capture technology and foreign capital from other countries.

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Identifying and Explaining Geopolitical Opportunities of Energy (Oil and Gas) as part of a Long-Term Strategy for Iran and Russia

Lifting sanctions in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal opened large opportunities for resource-rich Iran to bring its long-stagnant industry up to date. Most of the oil fields in Iran are in the second half of their production capabilities, with the productivity of wells decreasing by 8% annually. The result has been a decline in foreign exchange earnings and the gradual loss of Iran’s share in the oil market. According to Iranian officials, Iran needs around $100 billion foreign investment in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors” to increase its oil efficiency.

 

A major Russian investment in Iran’s energy sector came in the form of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. Russia has been active in Iranian nuclear power since mid-1990 and has continued cooperation with the country’s nuclear plan despite opposition from the West. Rosatom completed the Bushher Power Plant with some delay, and some analysts believe the cost of completing this power plant was higher than could have been achieved through other companies. Iran and Russia also signed agreements for the construction of a further nuclear power plant. Electricity generated in the Busher Power plant supply just about 2% of Iran’s electricity demands. Nuclear cooperation is thus more so in Russia’s favor.

 

In 2017, Iran and Russia signed an oil-for-food deal with Iran to be will be implemented next month with the purchase of 100 000 barrels of oil a day from Iran. The first oil for food agreement was signed in 2014, in the midst of EU and US sanctions. In Januray  2014, Iran and Russia an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion per month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions. Such agreements could come back on the agenda with the likely return of new US sanctions, and causing Russia to once again play a role in the Iranian energy sector.

 

By 2015, Russian firms such as Luk Oil and Gazprom began showing interest in investing in Iran’s energy sector.  On March 2015, Russia’s Zarubezhneft signed agreements with the Iranian Oil Ministry to boost production at two oil fields in the country’s west. Zarubezhneft and Dana Energy, will develop the Aban and Paydar fields in Ilam province near the Iraqi border jointly with a private Iranian company, to boost production from 36 000 to 48 000 barrels of oil per day. The Russian company Zarupozhgft’s share of this contract is 80%, and the share of the National Iranian Oil Company is 20%. The cost of increasing the production efficiency of Aban and Sustainable West oil fields is estimated at $675 million. In addition, $68 million is also expected to cover indirect costs for the project. Part of this money will be spent on the repair of pumps and replacement of worn pumps.

 

After US withdraw nuclear deal major foreign companies withdraw from Iran energy sector. Luk oil official said that they no more consider invest in Iran oil and gas fields. It should be noted that in during past years and last round of US and EU sanctions, Russia had no major investments in Iran’s upstream industry. Russia prefers to invest in oil and gas fields which will pose no threat to its own oil and gas market. Both countries are trying to use their vast hydrocarbon reserves as a political tool to get more gain in their relations with rest of the world. Thus, despite its diplomatic and economic cooperation with Iran, Russia is in favor of any sanctions which decrease Iran’s oil and gas production capacity.

 

Limiting the production capacities of Iranian oil and gas is in favor of Russia and other major oil producers. At present, Iran only exports natural gas to Turkey and has no major plans to export more natural gas for other countries. In terms of natural gas and LNG, Iran is far from posing a threat to the Russian market, but in oil Iran still has potential. US new sanctions aimed at decreasing Iran’s oil exports give an opportunity to Russia to fill the vacuum and take Iran’s would-be share in the regional and global market, especially in Asia and the EU.

 

Russia’s investments in Iran have led to closer coordination in foreign policy, not least with regards to Syria. Last year, and in mid-2018 ,Russian official many times declared their interest in investing  about  50 b$ in Iran’s energy sector. In the first week of July, the Senior Advisor to the Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in International Affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati visited Russia, and after negotiations with Russian officials said that Russia was ready to invest  50 b$ in Iran’s energy sector. The discussion focused on Russo-Iranian cooperation on issues in the region, including developments in Syria. The parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), Iran-Russia energy relations after US withdrawal from the JPCOA, thereby utilizing the situation to further bilateral relation with an obvious increase in Russian influence on Iran. In an alternative scenario, Iran could provide an alternative to Russian gas for the EU in the long term.

 

On 23 July , Iranian Oil Minister Bizhan Zanghaneh attended the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Moscow, meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak. They discussed bilateral relation, particularly in the field of energy. Last March, Russia and Iran signed a string of cooperation agreements in various fields, including energy. Details of the outcome of these meetings have still not been distributed to the press.

 

The actual question is whether despite the US opting out of the nuclear agreement, whether Russian investments in the country’s natural gas and oil fields will have an impact? This rests on whether the investments will go towards developing infrastructure and technological capacities. If this is the case, then which countries will benefit from purchasing renewed output? How will this renewal impact Iran’s regional relations? Will Russia eye this development closely? The coming months will reveal much on this front.

https://uwidata.com/

 

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