Winter 2009 was cold… but it was just about to get a lot colder….
Russia cut gas exports to Europe by 60 per cent overnight, plunging the continent into an energy crisis ‘within hours’ as a dispute with Ukraine escalated.
Out of the blue,gas companies in Ukraine began reporting that Russia had completely cut off their supply.
Another six countries then reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas shipped via Ukraine within hours. This was the start of a what was to become an energy crisis that was to threaten Europe as winter set in.
Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine.
Croatia said it was temporarily reducing supplies to industrial customers while Bulgaria said it had enough gas for only ‘for a few days’ and was in a ‘crisis situation’.
The Russians were accusing Ukraine of siphoning the gas as it passed thru on it’s way to Europe.
The EU demanded that the two sides reopen talks as the row immediately sparked fears of gas supply shortages and rising energy prices in the UK.
The UK was suffering one of its coldest nights this century with temperatures plunging to as low as -10C and Britain was one of Gazprom’s largest importers – relying on the company for some 16 per cent of consumption.
Prices, went haywire during trading in London….
MEANWHILE ; Qatar had a problem … it was sitting on 70 billion tons of natural gas with only two possible routes for it’s pipeline to Europe.
The route thru Saudi Arabia was just not in the Saudis interest to allow..and Assad wasn’t about to let Qatar run a pipeline thru his land…which was the only alternative.
Perhaps it was time for a change….
Qatar (2009) has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey in a sign the emirate is considering a further expansion of exports from the world’s biggest gas field after it finishes an ambitious programme to more than double its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“We are eager to have a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, said last week, following talks with the Turkish president Abdullah Gul and the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the western Turkish resort town of Bodrum.
“We discussed this matter in the framework of co-operation in the field of energy. In this regard, a working group will be set up that will come up with concrete results in the shortest possible time,” he said, according to Turkey’s Anatolia news agency.
Other reports in the Turkish press said the two states were exploring the possibility of Qatar supplying gas to the strategic Nabucco pipeline project, which would transport Central Asian and Middle Eastern gas to Europe, bypassing Russia.
A Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline might hook up with Nabucco at its proposed starting point in eastern Turkey. Last month, Mr Erdogan and the prime ministers of four European countries signed a transit agreement for Nabucco, clearing the way for a final investment decision next year on the EU-backed project to reduce European dependence on Russian gas.
But Nabucco’s future is far from assured, as its proponents have yet to reach agreements with gas suppliers.
The project was originally conceived as a conduit for Central Asian gas, but recently its backers have been courting Middle Eastern producers as well. After his meeting with Sheikh Hamad last week, Mr Erdogan said Turkey wanted a “long-term and stable relationship” with Qatar in energy matters.
“For this aim, I think a gas pipeline between Turkey and Qatar would solve the issue once and for all,” Mr Erdogan added, according to reports in several newspapers.
The reports said two different routes for such a pipeline were possible. One would lead from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq to Turkey. The other would go through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey.
It was not clear whether the second option would be connected to the Pan-Arab pipeline, carrying Egyptian gas through Jordan to Syria. That pipeline, which is due to be extended to Turkey, has also been proposed as a source of gas for Nabucco.
Based on production from the massive North Field in the Gulf, Qatar has established a commanding position as the world’s leading LNG exporter.
It is consolidating that through a construction programme aimed at increasing its annual LNG production capacity to 77 million tonnes by the end of next year, from 31 million tonnes last year.
However, in 2005, the emirate had placed a moratorium on plans for further development of the North Field in order to conduct a reservoir study. It recently extended the ban for two years until 2013.
But now there are signs that Qatar’s government is looking beyond the moratorium to what it will do next with massive gas reserves that, at about 900 trillion cubic feet, are the world’s third-largest.
Saad al Kaabi, the director of oil and gas projects for the government-owned Qatar Petroleum, said Qatar could produce 23 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas by 2014.
That would be more than triple the emirate’s output last year of 7.4 billion cfd, and 64 per cent more than its estimated 14 billion cfd of potential production once the LNG expansion programme is completed.
The Nabucco Agreement was signed by a handful of European nations and Turkey back in 2009.
It was an agreement to run a natural gas pipeline across Turkey into Austria, bypassing Russia again with Qatar in the mix as a supplier to a feeder pipeline via the proposed Arab pipeline from Libya to Egypt to Nabucco .
The problem with all of this is that a Russian backed Syria stood in the way.
Qatar would love to sell its LNG to the EU and the hot Mediterranean markets.
The problem for Qatar in achieving this was Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis had already said “NO” to an overland pipeline.
The only solution for Qatar was to cut a deal with the U.S.
Enter Exxon Mobile…
Recently Exxon Mobile and Qatar Petroleum International have made a $10 Billion deal that allows Exxon Mobile to sell natural gas through a port in Texas to the UK and Mediterranean markets. Qatar stands to make a lot of money and the only thing standing in the way of their aspirations is Syria.
The US plays into this in that it has vast wells of natural gas, in fact the largest known supply in the world. There is a reason why natural gas prices have been suppressed for so long in the US. This is to set the stage for US involvement in the Natural Gas market in Europe while smashing the monopoly that the Russians have enjoyed for so long.
The main cities of turmoil and conflict in Syria right now are Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo. These are the same cities that the proposed gas pipelines happen to run through.
Qatar is the biggest financier of the Syrian uprising, having spent over $3 billion so far on the conflict. The other side of the story is Saudi Arabia, which finances anti-Assad groups in Syria.
The Saudis do not want to be marginalized by Qatar; thus they too want to topple Assad and implant their own puppet government, one that would sign off on a pipeline deal and charge Qatar for running their pipes through to Nabucco.
Fast forward to 2016…Russia have annexed Ukraine and Nato are building forces in the region,Russia have interviened in the Syria conflict on the side of Iran and Assad,Turkey shoot down a Russian plane,Turkey survives a coup -Edrogan consolidates powerbase, Terror attacks on streets of Europe , 250,000 dead Syrians,Migrant crisis-largest movement of people since WW11.
I said it was about to get a lot colder…