When on December 31 2019, Russia and Ukraine reached a tense and difficult five-year gas supply deal, in Brussels they heaved a sigh of relief, with the EU energy Commissioner Maros Sevcovic addressing the agreement as "great news for Europe's energy security”. Indeed, about 16.3% of the European Union's annual natural gas consumption comes from Russia via Ukraine and the agreement should prevent a repeat of the so-called gas wars that previously disrupted supplies and caused real energy problems for several EU member states.
The last decade has seen the eastern Mediterranean region become a hotspot of the global natural gas industry, attracting increasing attention from multiple stakeholders also as a result of its high geopolitical stakes. Notwithstanding this momentum, progress has been bumpy.
Whenever the security of gas supplies is at stake, the shared EU mantra calls for “diversification”. We cry wolf, and the wolf happens to be Russian. The more we cry wolf, however, the more we import volumes of Russian gas. It could just be that when it comes to buying, prices prevail over policies and that in the UE a gas market with transparent prices is finally emerging.
The shipping sector, responsible for 2% to 3% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, has been seen as not doing enough to reduce its share of emissions. Since last year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has introduced a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% from 2008 levels by 2050 and enact more stringent rules on sulphur emissions as of January 2020 as part of regulatory steps to clean up the sector’s environmental footprint.
Sub-Saharan Africa made its appearance on the oil and gas map quite recently when compared with other regions of the world and although it seems marginal on the global oil and gas markets (it represents less than 5% of global oil production, around 2% of global gas production, just above 3% of both global oil and gas reserves), it accounts for a quarter to a third of the activities of all the major international oil companies (and even half of Italian ENI’s global activities).
On 2 December 2019, Russia and China inaugurated the Power of Siberia pipeline, a new gas infrastructure that will boost diversification in China’s gas supply and ensure an enhanced role for Russian gas on the Chinese market. The new, 3000-km pipeline will probably reduce the weight of Turkmenistan and Australia in China’s foreign gas supplies, currently at 35% and 25.7% of total gas imports respectively ,and cover China’s rising demand for additional gas.
In her inaugural speech, the new President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen set up a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050. Under these circumstances, in order to make the so-called “European green deal” effective, the terrestrial transport sector is among those that are set to undergo major changes.
US oil and gas production has been booming, changing domestic markets and the role of U.S. production in the world. President Trump talks about “energy dominance” and about oil and gas as a driver for growth and exports. The term “dominance” isn’t accurate, but the United States is now the world’s largest gas producer and a global player in gas markets.
With more than 136 countries (end-July 2019) reported to have signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI hereafter) since it was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013, estimates for China's potential BRI investments vary significantly, from around US $1 trillion to as much as US $8 trillion.
In 2019, climate strikes filled the streets worldwide. Time is running out, and after the catharsis of the protests, governments and industries must change tack. Radically so.
The African continent has been increasingly in the sights of many global actors such as China, the United States of America, the European Union, Turkey, Japan, India and, more recently, the Russian Federation. The successor to the Soviet Union is not a new actor in Africa, but relations deteriorated with the collapse of the USSR at the end of the Cold War. Its renewed engagement, through its “Pivot to Africa” has been more niched, focusing in the areas of security, weapons trade, oil and gas.
In the late eighties most of Central American countries made minor investments in the energy sector, suffered several damaging power shortages and experienced fairly high power prices due to the elevated cost of oil and coal.