The Oil Price War of 2020: Winners, Losers and Ways Forward

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(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Li-Chen Sim – March 25, 2020) Li-Chen Sim, an assistant professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, is an expert on the political economy of energy in Russia and in the Middle East. Two broad themes have dominated analyses about the failure of OPEC+ to arrive at a new consensus on oil production […]

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The Cost Of The Oil Price War Is Growing For Russia

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(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – March 25, 2020) Russia’s economy needs about a trillion rubles, or roughly $12.7 billion a month over the next few months to emerge stable from the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash Russia’s economy needs about a trillion rubles, or roughly $12.7 billion a month over the next few months to emerge stable from […]

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Russia’s Unexpected Advantage In The Oil Price War

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(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 25, 2020) While the ruble is now at its lowest level against the dollar in four years, the cheaper ruble has a silver lining for Russia’s oil producers in the oil price war for market share with Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the OPEC+ deal and oil prices has hit Russia’s financial markets and […]

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Russia Sees Oil & Gas Income Fall By Almost $40 Billion

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(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 18, 2020) Russia’s revenues from oil and gas will be US$39.5 billion (3 trillion rubles) lower than planned, due to the tumbling oil prices, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday, adding that Russia’s budget will be in deficit this year. The coronavirus pandemic and the lower economic activity, coupled with oil prices […]

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The Inevitable Outcome Of The Oil Price War

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – March 19, 2020) One might reasonably posit that when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) signalled that Saudi Arabia was once again going to produce oil to the maximum to crash oil prices in a full-scale oil price war, Russian President Vladimir Putin probably fell off the horse he was riding bare-chested somewhere in Siberia […]

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Russia Makes Move On Antarctica’s 513 Billion Barrels Of Oil

Antarctica Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – March 16, 2020) Rosgeologia’s seismic surveys and other related work since the 70s to now indicate that there is at least 513 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent in Antarctica, and Moscow has now set its sights on the world’s most underexplored continent Given the march that it has stolen on everyone else in […]

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Why Didn’t Russia Just Cut Oil Production?

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(Oilprice.com – Robert Rapier – March 15, 2020) Last week OPEC conducted meetings with a coalition of partners that have worked together to limit oil production since 2016. It was widely reported that the group hoped to come to an agreement to reduce oil production by an additional 1.5 million barrels per day (BPD). The meetings came in the wake […]

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The Reasons And Risks Behind Russia’s Big Oil Bet

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(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – March 10, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/failed-talks-a-fit-of-anger-a-plot-to-sink-u-s-shale-the-reasons-and-risks-behind-russia-s-big-oil-bet/30480151.html) For years now, Russia has been laser-focused on insulating itself from an external economic shock. It may have just sparked one. In an unexpected move on March 6, Russia rejected a call by OPEC countries […]

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Russia Can Live With $25 Oil For Years

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(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 9, 2020) After oil prices collapsed in the worst drop in nearly three decades-courtesy of the renewed Saudi-Russia rivalry on the oil market – Russia’s Finance Ministry said on Monday that Moscow had enough resources to cover budget shortfalls amid oil prices at $25-30 a barrel for six to ten years. The price of […]

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Ruble, Oil Prices Tumble Amid Market Chaos After OPEC-Russia Deal Collapses

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 9, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/ruble-oil-prices-tumble-after-opec-deal-collapses-amid-coronavirus-fears/30476938.html) The Russian ruble fell to a four-year low after oil prices collapsed following a breakup of talks between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Moscow. The ruble tumbled on March 9 by more than 7 percent to nearly 74 […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin signs Arctic master plan; The strategic document paves way for a massive industrialization of the country’s far north” – Barents Observer/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

“… The document covers the period until year 2035 … authored by the Ministry of the Far East and Arctic. … approved by government and the national Security Council in late 2019. … [In addition to other factors cited, i]t prepares the ground for a major natural resource exploitation in the region and helps develop the Northern Sea Route, the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Falling oil prices threaten to derail Putin’s spending promises” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon, Henry Foy, Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

Oil Wells File Photo

Kremlin’s bid to boost economy relies on Russian budget surplus and national wealth fund “… Putin’s spending promises are under threat from falling oil prices that could hurt the savings the Kremlin is tapping to rekindle growth. The coronavirus outbreak … pushed Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, down 10 per cent to a year-low … close to $50 a […]

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Russia Is Defeating The U.S. In The Middle East Oil Game

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – February 18, 2020) Historically, Russia goes to great lengths to hide or disguise its strategic intentions but it clearly feels empowered enough in the Middle East to very obviously stake its claim in the region – excluding, for the time being only, Saudi Arabia – by stating that a slew of Russian companies are to […]

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The Race For Arctic Oil Is Heating Up

Arctic Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – February 6, 2020) Despite climate concerns and environmentalist backlash against exploration for oil and gas in pristine sensitive regions of the Arctic, companies continue to explore for hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic Circle, in Russia and Norway in particular. The largest Russian energy companies are looking to explore more Arctic oil and gas resources on […]

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U.S. Senate Hearing Exposes Partisan Differences Over New Russia Sanctions

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/u-s-senate-hearing-exposes-partisan-differences-over-new-russia-sanctions/30306449.html) A hearing in the Senate to discuss U.S. foreign policy towards Russia exposed partisan disagreements over whether to impose new sanctions on a rival power accused of “malign” actions, including interference in foreign elections. […]

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Clock Ticking In Congress As Russia Presses Ahead With Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – Nov. 18, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/clock-ticking-in-congress-as-russia-presses-ahead-with-nord-stream-2-gas-pipeline/30278828.html) As the impeachment inquiry hogs the spotlight in Washington, another drama in which Ukraine has a role is playing out more quietly — and causing concern in Kyiv, which is watching warily as Russia brings […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Oil Production Among Most Expensive in World; Saudi analysis finds Russian oil production has one of the highest break-even prices in the world” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Nov. 12, 2019) Russia is one of the most expensive places in the world to produce oil, new analysis produced for Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco has found. The cost of producing a single barrel of Brent crude oil came in at around $42 for Russian onshore projects, and $44 for offshore projects, […]

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Oil, Military And Nuclear Tech: Russia’s Influence In Africa

Africa Map

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – Oct. 17, 2019) Virtually all great powers have set their eyes on Africa as the continent’s global importance grows. Its population is set to double by 2050 and its economy is expected to expand significantly alongside its energy consumption. It is these projections that have driven Russia to invest heavily in strong relations in the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pipelines From Russia Cross Political Lines; Critics say the Nord Stream 2 project would make Germany too dependent on Russian natural gas and economically punish Ukraine” – New York Times/ Steven Erlanger

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“… Radoslaw Sikorski … former Polish defense minister, compared it to the infamous 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that allied the Nazis with Stalin’s Soviet Union. … [A] pair of natural gas pipelines known as Nord Stream 2, … would double the capacity of an existing pair of pipelines, Nord Stream …. The pipelines run from Russia directly under the Baltic Sea […]

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Russia Considers Possibility Of $25 Oil Next Year

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(Oilprice.com – Julianne Geiger – Sept. 9, 2019) Russia is considering the notion that oil prices may be as low as $25 per barrel in 2020, the country’s central bank said in its new forecast published on Monday, as cited by Reuters. Russia’s Central Bank has forecast in its macroeconomic forecast that oil could possibly hit that low due to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s $150 Billion Bet on Arctic Warming; France’s Macron slams the northern shipping route as an ecological disaster in the making, but Asian and European companies are lining up for a share of its (potential) riches.” – Transitions Online/ Ky Krauthamer

Arctic Map

“… [Russian has high hopes for] the [Arctic’s] Northern Sea Route [NSR] … owing to the long-term thinning of the ice pack. … [Use of the route] could shorten the journey from East Asia to Europe by up to two weeks. Norway … is skeptical[,] … has concerns about the environmental dangers of increased shipping in the fragile northern environment, […]

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Superpowers Are Vying For Power In This New Oil & Gas Frontier

File Photo of Poritions of U.S. Navy Carrier Groups Lincoln and Stennis in Mediterranean, adapted from defense.gov image relating to defense.gov video

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – August 29, 2019) The Eastern Mediterranean has become a hotbed for tensions between regional and great powers due to the discovery of major energy deposits. The littoral states could potentially earn billions in gas exports while at the same time ensuring a level of energy security, which is rare to the region. However, the on-going […]

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Russia Could Allow Private Oil Firms To Explore Arctic Shelf

Arctic Map

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – September 4, 2019) The Russian ministry of natural resources is open to the idea that private oil and gas firms could be allowed to explore Russia’s Arctic shelf, where currently only state-held firms Rosneft and Gazprom have the right to operate, Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Kobylkin told news agency TASS in an interview published […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “There is no ice left on Northern Sea Route; But the number of ships that set course for the Arctic route still remains low” – Barents Observer (Norway)/ Atle Staalesen

Arctic Map

“The Arctic shortcut … connect[ing] Asia and Europe is open and ice-free … [S]hipping appears smooth … [even] for vessels without ice class standards. The last pieces of … [ice] vanished in mid-August … [T]he whole route now is free of ice. … includ[ing] the East Siberian Sea, … normally … [with] the longest-lasting white sheet. … August [to] October […]

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Will Europe Ever Shake Its Dependence On Russian Energy?

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(Oilprice.com – Wenyuan Wu – August 24, 2019) Much of the current discourse over Europe’s economic “independence” has revolved around its increasingly-tense relationship with the Trump administration over foreign policy issues such as trade and Iran. This focus has sidelined another important development, however: portions of the European energy industry-a major pillar of the single market-are increasingly coming into Russian […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia; Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options” – RAND/ James Dobbins, Raphael S. Cohen, Nathan Chandler, Bryan Frederick, Edward Geist, Paul DeLuca, Forrest E. Morgan, Howard J. Shatz, Brent Williams

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“This brief summarizes a report that comprehensively examines nonviolent, cost-imposing options that the United States and its allies could pursue across economic, political, and military areas to stress – overextend and unbalance – Russia’s economy and armed forces and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad. Some of the options … are clearly more promising … any would need […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Three Quarters of Nord Stream 2 completed – operator” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. Aug 26 (Interfax) – Nord Stream 2 AG has laid 1,855 kilometers of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea in Russian, Finnish, Swedish and German waters, the project operator said in a press release This corresponds to 75% of the overall length of the twin pipeline. “Nord Stream 2 AG proceeds with implementing the remaining […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russian Oil Exports to U.S. Soar to 6-Year High” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 21, 2019) Russia’s oil and petroleum sales to the United States have reached six-year highs, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data analyzed by the RBC news website. The U.S. imported 61.75 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia in January-May 2019, up from 56 million barrels in January-May 2018. Russia’s […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “U.S. Sanctions Against Nord Stream 2 Pipeline: Strategic Hit Or Miss?” – Forbes/ Anna Mikulska

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“… the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced a bill that would impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline … currently under construction … [that] could bring up to 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas directly to Germany. … [T]he House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee approved a companion bill. The rationale for the sanctions (beyond […]

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Impact of Sanctions on Russia’s GDP Less Severe Than Low Oil Prices – IMF

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The fall in oil prices cost the country on average $48.75 billion in lost economic growth per year. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 6, 2019) Sanctions have had a less severe impact on Russia’s GDP growth than low oil prices, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest report on the country. Between 2014 and 2018, sanctions slowed […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Allies’ Oil Feud Spills Into Public View” – Reuters

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“The blame game over a [Russian oil industry] contamination scandal … has breached … Putin’s inner circle. Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, the world’s biggest publicly-traded oil company, and Nikolai Tokarev, the boss of Transneft, the world’s largest pipeline network, are embroiled in an unusually public and rancorous dispute over their companies’ responses to the contamination of Russia’s Druzhba (“Friendship”) […]

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Putin: Oil Price Volatility Is Hurting Russia’s Economy

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(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – July 4, 2019) Economic realities including the fluctuating international oil prices are among factors interfering with the Russian government’s economic program, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Italian Corriere della Serra ahead of a state visit to Rome. Asked about why, despite his overwhelming victory in the latest elections and the virtual non-existence […]

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Putin Undermines OPEC’s Power

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(Oilprice.com – Nick Cunningham – July 1, 2019) After so much hype and anticipation, it seems that the OPEC meeting in Vienna was all but over before it had even begun. Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to extend the OPEC+ production cuts by six to nine months. The production levels remains unchanged, but the timing could be extended through […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Sovcomflot Says Arctic Sailings Will Become Routine; CEO of the state-owned shipping giant says melting polar ice will draw more ship operators to Siberian waters” – Wall Street Journal/Costas Paris

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

“‘The Northern Sea Route shipments are growing …’ [Russian state-owned shipping Sovcomflot] Chief Executive Sergey Frank said … ‘It’s a question of time before all kinds of ships routinely cross it.’ Arctic routes are drawing greater attention as the global climate warms and polar ice recedes, potentially opening new paths between Asia and Europe. The mostly frozen NSR seaway … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In a Blow to Maduro, Russia Withdraws Key Defense Support to Venezuela” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove,Alan Cullison, Maolis Castro

Venezuela Map, adapted from image at cia.gov

Russia has been one of Maduro’s major supporters in its standoff with the U.S. “Russia has withdrawn key defense advisers from Venezuela, an embarrassment for … Maduro as Moscow weighs the leader’s political and economic resilience against … U.S. pressure. Russian state defense contractor Rostec … trained Venezuelan troops and advised on … arms contracts, [but reportedly now] has cut […]

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Will The U.S. Slap Sanctions On Nord Stream 2?

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(Oilprice.com – Nick Cunningham – May 23, 2019) There is a growing push in the U.S. Congress to slap sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline under construction would carry Russian natural gas to Germany, and has been a lightning rod of controversy both in Europe and across the Atlantic. Many governments and officials from Eastern Europe fear […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “The U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebranded ‘Freedom Gas’ Is a Not-So-Subtle Dig at Russia” – Fortune

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[scroll down for video] “… the Department of Energy … [has] touted the expansion of [a] liquid natural gas … facility … by saying that it would spread ‘freedom gas’ to the world. … giv[ing] ‘America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy’ …. Not only has the U.S. become largely energy independent … the shale boom has […]

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The U.S. Is Losing The Nuclear Race To Russia And China

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(Oilprice.com – May 23, 2019 – Tsvetana Paraskova) While nuclear power plants in the U.S. are retiring as they face stiff cost competition from cheap and abundant natural gas, America has also been struggling to keep its leadership on the global nuclear power market as state-sponsored programs in China and Russia have started to dominate the world’s nuclear plant construction […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Economy Gives Putin Reasons Not to Extend OPEC+ Deal” – Bloomberg/ Olga Tanas

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“The OPEC+ pact is hurting the Russian economy, potentially giving … Putin a reason not to agree on an extension …. While higher crude prices can bring … additional revenue, production cuts are weighing on one of the country’s biggest industries. … [Putin] may have to weigh his desire for faster economic growth against the benefits of his alliance with […]

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Russia Could Take Hold Of China’s Entire Gas Market

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“As the trade war between the U.S. and China intensifies … Beijing has vowed to retaliate. … Not only will the trade war impact U.S.-Chinese LNG deals, but it will impact the overall global LNG market since the U.S. is the fastest growing LNG producer ….”

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s New Energy Security Doctrine Preaches Self-Reliance; Updated plan tackles sanctions and global demand.” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 15, 2019) Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new energy security doctrine preaching self-reliance in the face of geopolitical isolation. Russia has unrivaled energy resources and is the world’s top exporter of gas and its second-biggest of crude oil. The new doctrine replaces the 2012 plan and takes into account threats to Russia’s […]

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RUSSIALINK: “In Russia’s Arctic, Oil Majors and Reindeer Herders Are Coming Together; Sustainable development and cooperation are replacing encroachment on pastures.” – Moscow Times

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – NARYAN-MAR, May 15, 2019) Russia’s oil and gas giants are establishing a new model in the country’s Arctic based on sustainable development and cooperation with the region’s native reindeer herders. A decade ago, locals were struggling to sustain their traditional way of life due to the energy firms’ growing encroachment on their pasturelands. And as […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s nuclear power exports are booming” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

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“… state-owned … Rosatom … operates 35 nuclear power stations in Russia … produc[ing] 28GW of power, and … is actively exporting … nuclear technology …. [to help] cement[] ties with … emerging markets with no nuclear power tradition and the BRICS countries …. [including i]n recent years … construction of six nuclear power reactors in India, Iran and China […]

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Have Sanctions on Russia Changed Putin’s Calculus?

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

Since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, Western powers have hit Moscow with economic sanctions, hoping to put a stop to President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Have they worked? (Council on Foreign Relations – Andrew Chatzky – May 2, 2019 – cfr.org/article/have-sanctions-russia-changed-putins-calculus – Andrew Chatzky covers economics, energy, and geopolitics, and helps edit the Daily News Brief.) The United States and the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Suddenly Sacks Russian Envoy to Belarus Amid Oil Row” – Reuters

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“… Putin … sacked Moscow’s ambassador to Belarus, Mikhail Babich … amid a row over contaminated oil and a wider political discord between the ex-Soviet countries. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has generally been more closely aligned with Moscow than any other ex-Soviet leader, while the lack of tolerance for dissent at home has made him largely a pariah in the […]

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Russia Replaces Venezuelan Crude On European Markets

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(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – April 12, 2019) European refiners are switching to Russian sour grades as U.S. sanctions have shrunk Venezuela’s similar-grade exports, Reuters reports, adding that the Russian sour crude is getting increasingly expensive. Citing sources from the trading industry, Reuters says the situation has been made worse by the fact that OPEC members have cut mainly their […]

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Russia Seeks New Arctic Oil Frontier

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company … the largest oil producer in the country, plans to develop an Arctic cluster of oil fields over the next five years. These plans by Rosneft – led by a close [Putin] ally … Igor Sechin – fit [Putin’s] ambition to develop Arctic oil and gas resources and adjacent regions, as well as the so-called Northern Sea Route – a shipping lane through Russian Arctic waters … from Europe to the Far East. …

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The UK executives helping Putin burnish Russia’s image; Meeting with top British businessmen could not come at a better time for the Kremlin” – Financial Times/ Henry Foy

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“Eleven years ago [BP’s] Bob Dudley … fled [Russia] citing ‘sustained harassment of the company and myself’ and threats to his life allegedly directed by politically connected oligarchs and Russia’s security services. Last month … Dudley, now head of the British oil group, was back, telling … Putin … at the Kremlin that he and the British company ‘deeply appreciate […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin Kicks Off Massive New Gas Field in Russia’s Arctic” – Moscow Times

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 20, 2019) President Vladimir Putin has kicked off the full-scale development of one of Russia’s largest proven gas fields in the Yamal peninsula, the Kremlin reported on Wednesday. The Kharasaveyskoye gas field is located in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, a key gas-producing region in an economy that heavily relies on gas exports. This month, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia’s Natural Resources Make Up 60% of GDP” – Moscow Times

Oil Well file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 14, 2019) Russia’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry estimates that the combined cost of the country’s oil, gas and other resources amounts to 60 percent of its gross domestic product, the RBC news website reported on Thursday. As one of the world’s top producers of natural gas and oil, Russia’s economy is heavily reliant […]

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