Russia is NOT manipulating gas market to drive up costs, European Commission says in response to claims Moscow plotted price rise — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

There is no evidence that Russian state energy giant Gazprom is
attempting to squeeze Western Europe’s fuel supplies, the European
Commission has said, amid a sharp rise in prices and fears of shortages
in the lead-up to winter.
Speaking to Bulgarian broadcaster bTV on Friday, Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s deputy head, said, “Russia is fulfilling its gas supply contracts.” He added that “we have no reason to believe it is putting pressure on the market or manipulating it.”

However, Timmermans went on to say that “the demand for gas at the global level is huge, including there.”
Some parts of Western Europe have seen prices skyrocket by as much as
250% in recent weeks, with reserves running low and rising bills hitting
businesses and consumers.

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Soaring gas prices in Western Europe down to mistaken reliance on wind farms, Russia on track for record exports in 2021 – Putin

Last month, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the EU would have to “stand up when there are players who may be manipulating supply in order to benefit themselves,” suggesting the crisis could be down to “manipulation.” A number of analysts have since blamed Russia for not ramping up output in response to growing demand.

Kremlin, however, has insisted Gazprom is meeting all of its existing
orders, and is taking steps to ensure it can increase the volumes of gas
reaching Western Europe if new contracts are agreed.

earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the rise in
prices on falling electricity output from wind farms, which make up a
growing share of the EU’s energy generation. He blasted claims Russia is
‘weaponizing’ energy supplies as “complete nonsense” and claimed that “proper analysis of the situation is often replaced by empty political slogans.”

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Russia could offer extra gas to Western Europe as consumers see energy bills skyrocket amid squeeze on supplies, Kremlin reveals

“If they ask us to increase further, we are ready to increase further. We will increase by as much as our partners ask us,” Putin added. “There is no refusal, none.”

spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has previously said Russia stands ready to
pump more gas across the continent, but boosting output takes time. “Underground storage facilities can’t just be pumped out in a few days by simply opening a valve,” he said. “There are technological limits.”

Coal crisis reveals how energy supply has become a major problem for China — RT Op-ed

Tom Fowdy is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

considerations and recent events show why – it simply doesn’t have
sufficient resources of its own to power what has become the world’s
largest industrial hub.
The headlines have been stark in recent days: regions of China have been suffering from power shortages, with local governments being forced to ration electricity due to a lack of coal and increased demand pushing prices up.

crisis is also a product of a power system fuelled by government
subsidies that operate on a not-for-profit basis, alleviating the
pressure on bill payers. This means that when commodity prices surge,
they start making massive losses and so have to cut supply.

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The problem shines a light on one of China’s biggest headaches –
ensuring there is enough affordable power for a mega-industrial nation
of more than 1.4 billion people, with demand soaring year after year as
the country has grown.

And so the need for energy has become one
of the biggest strategic motivations behind China’s contemporary foreign
policy, stretching across the Belt and Road Initiative,
the South China Sea disputes, and even the alarming, if improbable,
scenario of a potential conflict with the United States, which has
initiated a policy of maritime encirclement around China’s periphery,
most aptly demonstrated by the new AUKUS deal with Australia and the United Kingdom.

to and supply of energy is one of the most important considerations in
international strategy. Energy essentially functions as the nervous
system for all elements of a country – without it there is no industry,
no transport, no military and minimal ability for a society to function.

access to a means of generating electricity or attaining oil, a country
is to all intents and purposes living in the Middle Ages. In the modern
world, access to a stable, invulnerable supply of energy resources can
be the difference between winning and losing a war.

In World War II, for example, one of the reasons Britain was able to
hold out was because it was self-sufficient in coal reserves, and with
the US on the western flank of the Atlantic, it was not cut off from oil
imports either. In contrast, Nazi Germany, the continental-based enemy,
was in a geographically vulnerable position and had all but lost the
war once the Soviet Union overran the European oilfields of Hungary and
Romania, crippling its war machine. ‘Energy security’ is an important
criterion of a country’s strategic strength and power projection.

is not blessed with many advantages in this domain. It has the world’s
largest population and even though it has its own oil reserves, these do
not satisfy domestic demand. And a pressing concern has been that the
bulk of its energy imports – whether coal or oil – are imported via its
maritime periphery, which is increasingly vulnerable as it is surrounded
by hostile states.

As referenced in declassified documents from
the Trump administration on America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the US’
objective in a conflict scenario would be to prevent China dominating
the first and second island chains, which would amount to an attempt at maritime containment.

current coal crisis illustrates squarely why this is a huge strategic
vulnerability for China, because you can imagine what would happen if
that supply of coal – or even oil – was completely cut off. Beijing has
long been planning a contingency for this potential scenario, and this
is why it has focused on alternative transcontinental routes through the
Belt and Road Initiative, including in Pakistan, Myanmar, Laos,
Thailand, Russia and Kazakhstan. It also explains why China is
strengthening its military grip over the South China Sea, which contains abundant
oil reserves, as well as doubling down on nuclear power and renewable
energy patents. In a nutshell, China hopes to diversify its energy
routes, and also become more energy independent. Beijing sees this as

But the coal crisis reveals the extent of the work that
is yet to be done. Despite China’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions,
its heavy industries and power stations continue to be dependent on
coal. More than that, enormous amounts
of it are being imported from the US, too. China has banned coal from
Australia as part of its ongoing dispute with Canberra, which some might
argue has hardly helped in the current crisis.

Now Beijing has commanded all coal mines within the country to maximize their output
in order to drive down the price with increased supply, and is also
accelerating imports. It seems obvious from these policies that climate
considerations will be sacrificed in the short term because of fears of a
negative impact on economic growth in the long term.

On the
other hand, China could simply raise electricity bills to offset the
rise in commodity prices as opposed to cutting production – yet that
itself is a strain on the economy. The country’s power bills continue to
be significantly cheaper than the likes of Britain, where all the
infrastructure is privately owned and run for profit.

Also on
In picking up the phone to Xi Jinping, has Biden just blinked first in the great showdown between America and China?

In conclusion, it is clear that energy continues to be one of
China’s potential weaknesses – a product of the country’s demographic
and geographic realities. The coal crisis has arrived at a timely
moment, with the US and its allies stepping up the potential military
threat to the country, intensifying the urgency for China to find its
way out of relying on the world’s signature fossil fuel and address the
challenge of satisfying the growing power needs of the world’s biggest
industrial hub.

It won’t be easy for sure, but how it handles
these issues will help define how it offsets the challenge posed by the
US – and that’s why energy has become one of the country’s biggest
foreign policy considerations.

FULL OF GAS | Aletho News

By Paul Robinson | IRRUSSIANALITY | October 8, 2021

It’s 20 degrees here in Ottawa. For October, that’s something of a heatwave, and it’s meant to stay this way for a week or so, well into the middle of the month. Beyond that, the weather guys say that we’re in for a generally warm autumn. No need for the winter tires just yet.

Europe, though, is said to be headed for a deep cold spell in the coming months. So good for us, bad for Europe – unless you like winter sports, of course, in which case it’s the other way around. But regardless of what weather you prefer, cold has consequences, one of which is that you have to turn the heating up, for which you need fuel. And in the modern post-coal world, that increasingly means burning natural gas.

Unfortunately, this is a bad time to do so, for the price of natural gas has shot up in recent months, as you can see from the chart below. This is a result of increased demand, reduced output from wind turbines, and a reduction in supplies as Europe’s main suppliers – Norway and Russia – fill up their own stocks before winter. This has apparently ‘all but wiped out stocks’ in the rest of Europe. The markets have responded with a binge of frenzied speculation, shoving natural gas prices up to unnaturally high levels.

Which is obviously Russia’s fault. Because, well … it’s bad, and it’s natural gas, and so Russia must be to blame. After all, we know that all those traders on the futures markets take their orders from the Kremlin.

To give example of the hysterical rhetoric floating around, CNBC ran this headline yesterday: ‘The US was right – Europe has become a “hostage” to Russia over energy, analysts warn.’ The following story then told readers that ‘Europe is now largely at Russia’s mercy when it comes to energy,’ citing analyst Timothy Ash (who regularly pops up on the pages of the Kyiv Post) denouncing Russia’s ‘energy blackmail’ and saying that:

‘Europe has now left itself hostage to Russia over energy supplies … [It’s] crystal clear that Russia has Europe (the EU and U.K.) in an energy headlock, and Europe (and the U.K.) are too weak to call it out and do anything about it … Europe is cowering as it fears [that] as it heads into winter Russia will further turn the screws (of energy pipelines off) and allow it to freeze until it gets its way and NS2 [North Stream 2] is certified.’

If I get this right, the logic is that Russia is deliberately withholding supplies from Europe in order to force Germany to complete the certification of the North Stream 2 pipeline linking Germany and Russia. Unfortunately, Ash fails to provide a shred of evidence for this claim, and it’s not as if the Russians are expressing any sort of concern that the certification may not happen, or that they are specifically targeting Germany.

In fact, there’s no evidence that Russia is blackmailing anybody. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin even sought to calm international markets by telling the Russian gas company Gazprom to keep sending supplies through Ukraine even though it would be cheaper to send them via alternative routes. It’s important to maintain Russia’s reputation as a reliable supplier of energy, he noted, adding that Russia would indeed increase supplies to Europe this year, with exports possibly reaching a record high.

Critics complain that Russia could be pumping more gas to Europe than it currently is. It is apparently true that the volume of deliveries has been down in the past couple of months, as Russia fills up its own stocks before what is expected to be a harsh winter. But, deliveries for 2021 as a whole are on par with last year and Russia is meeting all its contracts. Furthermore, as Ben Aris has pointed out, it’s not that easy for Russia to greatly increase the quantity of gas it supplies Europe via existing pipelines. This is because different gas fields serve different pipelines, with limited connections. The line going via Ukraine comes from fields that are already ‘maxed out’. Additional gas would have to come from the Yamal peninsula – i.e. via North Stream or North Stream 2. With the former already at capacity, that in essence means the latter. In other words, Aris concludes:

‘It is possible for Russia to send more gas west without using NS2 but it’s limited & most expensive option for Gazprom. By far easiest & cheapest option for both Gazprom & EU is to turn NS2 on. This would solve the current gas crisis.’

It seems to me that Russia’s critics need to decide what they want. For years, they’ve been complaining that Europe is buying too much Russian gas. Now, though, they’re complaining that the Russians won’t sell them more! The Russians sell you gas – that’s a sign that they’re out to get you. They won’t sell you gas – proof that they’ve got you!

Frankly, it makes no sense.

Besides which, people don’t sell you stuff unless you ask them to, which in business terms means signing a contract with them. Russia, as previously said, is fulfilling its contracts. What more is it meant to do? As German chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out this week, if European states haven’t signed up to buy Russian gas, they can’t really complain if they don’t get it. She said:

‘To my knowledge, there are no orders where Russia has said we won’t deliver it to you, especially not with regard to the pipeline in Ukraine. Russia can only deliver gas on the basis of contractual obligations, and not just only like that.’


Of course, if Russia was exploiting the rising cost of gas by engaging in price gouging, there might still be some grounds for complaint. But that’s not the case. Russia prefers to lock its customers into long-term contracts. Anybody who had the good sense to sign such a contract with Gazprom a while back when prices were low will now be laughing: their supplies are guaranteed and they’ll be cheap. Germans, Hungarians, Serbs, and the like are probably feeling a bit smug right now. Others who preferred to gamble on the market, or to dump Russia for an alternative supplier such as American LNG will now have to pay the price. But that’s their fault not Russia’s. As Putin pointed out:

‘The practice of our European partners has confirmed it once more that they made mistakes. We talked to the European Commission’s previous lineup, and all its activity was aimed at phasing out of so-called long-term contracts. It was aimed at transition to spot gas trade. And as it turned out, it has become obvious today, that this practice is a mistake.’

None of this, unfortunately, has stopped the flood of stories blaming Russia for Europe’s gas crisis, a crisis that is in large part due to the latter’s own errors. To give a flavour, here’s some of the headlines in the American and British press this past 24 hours:

‘Don’t Fall For Putin or Orban as They Try to Exploit Europe’s Energy Crisis’ – Washington Post

‘As Europe Faces a Cold Winter, Putin Seizes on the Leverage From Russia’s Gas Output’ – The New York Times

‘Russia has the West over a barrel: Fury at “bullying” Putin for offering Europe more natural gas IF his Nord Stream 2 pipeline is approved.’ – Daily Mail

‘Gas price crisis: Is Putin using energy supply as a weapon and what is its new Nord Stream 2 pipeline?’ – Sky News

‘UK dubbed “Putin’s puppet” as “Soviet” Britain’s gas prices plummet after Russian offer’ – Daily Express

‘How “Sleepy Joe” handed Putin the bargaining chip he is using to hold Europe to ransom in gas crisis’ – Daily Mail

Now, I can understand why Western politicians would want to find a scapegoat for their own failings, but why does the press go along with this? Wasn’t there a time when the Fourth Estate prided itself on holding the powers that be at home to account? Apparently no more. Blaming Russia obviously sells more copy. As long as that remains the case, expect the pipelines of BS to keep on flowing profusely!

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British army on standby to help with petrol shortages amid panic buying at servos – ABC News

… the government said it was placing dozens of British army tanker drivers in “a state of readiness in order to be deployed if required to deliver fuel to where it is needed most”.

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Fukushima nuclear plant to construct UNDERSEA tunnel to release a million tons of treated water — RT World News

The operators of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant have
announced plans to build an undersea tunnel to facilitate the release of
more than one million tons of treated water from the site into the
surrounding ocean.
The 1km-long and
eight-feet-wide tunnel will run east from the water container tanks at
the nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, allowing roughly 1.27 million
tons of treated water to be released into the sea, despite opposition
from neighboring countries.

Japan insists that the water, which is
set to be released in two years, is completely safe, having been
thoroughly treated to remove radioactive particles. The containers
include water that was used to cool down the nuclear power plant after
it went into meltdown in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, as well rain and
groundwater that subsequently seeped in.

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Study finds green roofs make solar panels more efficient – ABC News

  • Study finds solar panels work better when they’re not too hot
  • What they found was that the “green roof” improved performance by as
    much as 20 per cent at peak times and by 3.6 per cent over the length of
    the experiment.
  • Sustainability expert says green roofs can help in the fight against climate change