Truth is often stranger than fiction. And this is one of those moments that makes you embarrassed to support the current U.S. administration. Though, admittedly, this is quite small potatoes compared to the mountain of monstrosities that occurred under Obama and Bush the Lesser.
So, remember when Trump went to Poland and declared that we would help them resist the evil Russians and their ‘monopoly’ on European gas markets by selling them LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas?
Well, it turns out that Navigator Holdings is, in fact, selling LNG to the EU via the Antwerp import terminal. But, where are they buying that LNG from?
Inessa S. over at Fort Russ has the story:
It turned out that the liquefied gas arriving in Antwerp is delivered by four tankers, belonging to the Navigator Holdings company registered in the Marshall Islands.
Almost one third (31%) of Navigator Holdings shares belong to US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.
The company buys gas from the Russian “Sibur” in the port of Ust-Luga.
The investigation confirms the opinion of the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, that it is “naive to count on the arrival of liquefied gas from the United States in the terminals of Europe.”
This was first reported by TASS, the Russian news agency. And it occurred right after Wilbur Ross was outed as one of the main shareholders of Navigator Holdings.
Now, I don’t care at all that Ross owns some of Navigator. I don’t even care that Navigator is selling LNG to Europeans. What I have a real problem with is that this is obviously a result of the tighter sanctions on Russia and coordinated policy by the U.S. which forces the EU to pay for over-priced LNG versus opening up the taps to buy more pipeline gas from Gazprom directly.
More Nordstream Shenanigans
In the end, deals like this cannot last. They will only further alienate Europe from the U.S. Since the sanctions were put on in August, there has been little said about the controversial Nordstream 2 pipeline. But, in recent days the European Commission has been trying to find a way to stop the pipeline by applying its ridiculous rules on pipeline ownership (The Third Energy Package) that were developed to stop South Stream and applied ex post facto in 2014.
The likelihood of the EC getting that authority since the major investors in the pipeline are all European oil and gas majors is really small. That’s why Nordstream 2 is so controversial.
First, it circumvents the Third Energy Package by being completely offshore.
Second, Gazprom specifically partnered with European partners to, in effect, share the wealth. It was barred from doing so by Poland whose courts struck down the Joint Venture between Gazprom and its five European partners. And it forced them to become lenders to Gazprom, who is now the sole owner of the project which opens it up to further challenge.
All of this opposition to Nordstream comes from the U.S., most specifically through the offices of John McCain, likely doing the bidding of George Soros and foreign policy advisors trying to keep a wedge between Russia and the EU.
But, what TASS released about existing LNG imports to the EU, the idea that we can compete with Gazprom is nonsense.
Everyone on the take in this fight over a gas pipeline couches their opposition in terms of “Europe’s energy security.” But, who is the most reliable source of energy for the EU? Gazprom or Cheniere? In the end it’s all just more grist for the propaganda mill and more wasted time and energy trying to hold back the tide from turning against the U.S.’s influence in Europe and, by extension, Central Asia.
The important takeaway here is that Europe wants this pipeline and many in the EU’s leadership do not because they take their orders from people outside of the political structure.
The European Commission was designed to be unresponsive to the will of the people. That they have to go to the member states to get negotiating power in this instance is irrelevant because, as Russia has pointed out, the EC doesn’t have jurisdiction over international waters and therefore cannot compel Russia to negotiate.
I continue to believe what I’ve always believed about Nordstream 2. Germany gets what it wants. And it wants to be able to use gas delivered by Nordstream 2 to put political pressure on Poland and the rest of the Visigrad Nations.
This is the real crux of the issue for Poland. And they are free to entertain Trump’s offers to buy LNG from U.S. sources for three times the price of Russian piped gas. Poland can help themselves by siding with Russia over the separatists in the Donbass, but they won’t because the Law and Justice Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. neoliberal and neoconservative interests.
By bringing up the spectre of Russia having this leverage, the opposition to Nordstream 2 is projecting, Alinsky-like, onto Russia behavior they themselves will use the pipeline for, not Putin.
As for investors. I wouldn’t worry about any of this. The pipeline is getting built. So is Turkish Stream in the Black Sea. Gazprom will weather this tempest in a teapot and, between now and 2019 the real losers will be the people of Europe themselves.