The Gas Wars – Part 2

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Moscow goes East

At the end of 2009, precisely as planned and to the surprise of Washington, Russia opened the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline, a 4-year construction project costing some $14 billion.  The pipeline now allows Russia to export oil directly from its East Siberia fields to China as well as Korea and Japan, a major step in closer economic integration between China and Russia. The pipeline is 4,800 km long. The pipeline was opened in 2014, and has an annual capacity of 560 million barrels or about 1.5 million barrels per day.

An indication of the priority that energy-hungry China places on Russian oil, China lent $25 billion to Russia in exchange for oil deliveries over the next 20 years. The Chinese loan was made at 6% interest and would require Russian oil be sold to China for $22 a barrel. Today the oil price is around $40 a barrel, meaning China has locked in a golden prize. Rather than renege on the  price deal, Moscow has decided the strategic advantages of the China link outweigh possible revenue losses.

While the energy markets of Europe pose a stagnant demand prospect, those of China and Asia are booming. Moscow is making a major shift eastwards in light of that fact. China passed Japan several years ago to become the world’s second major oil-importing nation after the US.

With the completion of the ESPO pipeline, Russia began its first ever  deliveries of LNG from the Gazprom-led Sakhalin 11 project, a joint venture that includes Japan’s Mitsui and Misubishi as well as Shell.

Also, in 2010, the Turkmen-China Gas Pipeline was completed, connecting central Asian gas fields to cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong.  It supplies 40 billion cubic meters (bcm) It marked the first pipeline to bring Central Asian gas to China. The US tried to destabilize this route when it instigated riots within Xinjiang, using the ethnic Uighur’s as cannon fodder. This was led by the Washington-based World Uighur Congress (WUC), and its leader Rabiya Kadeer, who is closely tied to the CIA and its regime-change NGO, the National Endowment for democracy (NED). Little wonder the Chinese authorities were not too pleased with this.

The Turkmen-China gas pipeline serves to deepen the economic ties within the countries of the Shanghai Cooperating Organization (SCO), at the same time it locks up for China a major portion of Turkmen gas that might have gone to the floundering Nabucco pipeline favored by Washington.

The SCO, founded in June 2001, in Shanghai by the heads of states of China, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, has evolved into what might be called Halford Mackinder’s worst nightmare – a vehicle for welding close economic and political cooperation  of the key Eurasian land powers independently of the United States.  In the wake of the events of 9-11, events which many Russian intelligence experts  doubted to be the work of a rag-tag band of Muslim Al Qaeeda fanatics, the SCO has begun to take the character of the very threat that Zbigniew Brzezinski warned of. We now know who was responsible for this “event”.  In his  widely-publicized  1997 book , The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Vrzezinski bluntly stated : “ It is inperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy  is therefore the purpose of this book.”

 “ – – Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.”

The Battle moves South:

Nigeria :

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer, is from all evidence being systematically thrown into chaos and a state of civil war. Nigeria today is one of the most important producers of light, sweet crude oil – the same high quality oil that Libya And the British North Sea produce. It produces about 2 million barrels per day.

Despite its oil riches, Nigeria remains one of Africa’s poorest countries. It’s oil is exploited and largely exported by the Anglo-American giants – Shell, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco,  Italy’ Agip. To no ones surprise, the Chinese state oil companies have been granted a few exploration blocks.

One major geopolitical factor that is generally ignored is the growing role of China in the country. In May, 2010, Just days after the new government of President Jonathan Goodluck took office, China signed an impressive $28.5 billion deal to build three new refineries, something that in no way fit into the plans of either the IMF, Washington, or of the Anglo-American oil majors.

In September, Nigeria announced it would make the Chinese currency, the yuan, part of its foreign reserves – up to 10% of her reserves. Nigeria holds 79% of her reserves in dollars, and the balance in Euro and sterling. This was like waving a red flag in Washington’s face.

The Chinese Connection

The involvement of Chinese energy and raw materials companies  across Africa had become a major cause of alarm in Washington. As its future energy needs became obvious several years ago, China began a major African economic diplomacy which reached a crescendo in 2006 when Beijing  literally rolled out the red carpet to more than 40 African heads of states and discussed a broad range of economic issues. None were more important for Beijing than securing future African oil supplies. China moved into countries that had been virtually abandoned by former European colonial powers like France, Britain or Portugal.

AFRICOM  responds

The key force behind the recent wave of Western military attacks against Libya or more covert regime changes such as in Tunisia, Egypt and the fateful referendum in South Sudan which has now made the oil-rich region “independent” has been AFRICOM, the special US military command established by President Bush in 2008 explicitly to counter the growing Chinese influence over Africa’s vast oil and mineral wealth.

In 2007, a Washington insider stated openly that among the aims of the new Africom, is the objective of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance –  – – a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability  of those natural riches and ensuring that no other third parties, such as China,India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.”

It is useful to briefly recall the sequence of Washington-sponsored “Twitter” revolution in the so-called Arab Spring. The first was Tunisia, an insignificant land on North Africa’s Mediterranean. However, Tunisia is on the western border of Libya. The next domino to fall in the process was Mubarak’s Egypt. That created major instability across the Middle East into north Africa as Mubarak, for all his flaws, had fiercely resisted Wahington’d Middle East policy.

Then in July 2011 Southern Sudan declared itself independent , breaking away from Sudan after years of US-backed insurgency against Khartoum. The new Republic takes with it the bulk of Sudan’s known oil riches, something that upset Beijing very Much, as it was the Chinese that built up Sudan’s oil infrastructure. South Sudan is now being encouraged by Israel to build a new export pipeline independent of Khartoum via Kenya. Kenya is a hub for the Us and Israel in east Africa.

The aim of the US-led regime change in Libya as well as the entire Greater Middle East Project which lies behind the Arab Spring is to secure absolute control over the world’s largest known oil fields to control future policies in countries such as China, and western Europe. As Kissinger said in the 1970s “You control the oil you control entire nations or groups of nations.”

Enter Gazprom

Fresh from securing gas supplies from Azerbaijaan and Tyrkmenistan, Gazprom visited Nigeria in late 2009, and signed a deal. Gazprom explained to the Nigerian government that their country was flaring its natural gas, and it was going to waste. Would it not be better if they would pipe it north into Europe, via Libya and Algeria. Gazprom  would help them build the pipeline and other infrastructure to make this happen. Nigeria signed on. And trouble blew up.

Boko Haram came into existence a few years before. A small insignificant group, it got a boost from the CIA. A new leadership, well supplied with arms, they began their terror campaign. Most of it was in the north of the country. The very route of the planned pipeline. Look at the map to get some idea. The planned pipeline route was nort to Nigeria, through Mali, and then forking into two branches. One through Algeria, connecting with the already existing gas infrastructure in the country. And piped north into Europe. In Late 2013, another CIA group,Al Qaeeda in the Maghrib (AQIM) then went and killed staff at an Algerian gas plant in southern Algeria-the Al Amenas plant.

The second route through Libya , and from there to Europe. The results were predictable. Mali got destablised. Nigeria was in an upheaval caused by the CIA-funded operation called Boko Haram. And Libya imploded. These moves put paid to Gazprom’s plans to create a new gas corridor into Europe from North Africa.

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