Category Archives: Natural Gas
A new study has cast serious doubt on whether the much-ballyhooed U.S. shale oil and gas revolution has long-term staying power.
The U.S. produced 8.5 million barrels of oil per day in July of this year — 60 percent more than just three years earlier. That is also the highest rate of production in three decades.
Put another way, since 2011, the U.S. has added 3 million barrels per day in additional capacity to global supplies. Had that volume not come online, oil prices would surely be much higher than they currently are.
That has “revolutionized” the energy industry and geopolitics, as scores of energy analysts have claimed. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that U.S. oil production will hit 9.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019, and gradually decline to 7.5 million bpd by 2040.
This would allow the U.S. to be one of the world’s top oil producers for an extended period of time. With such an achievement now at hand, many analysts are predicting an era of American dominance in geopolitics. For example, in an op-ed on Oct. 20, columnist Joe Nocera considered a “world without OPEC,” in which U.S. oil production soon kills off the oil cartel.
Or consider this rather triumphalist piece in Foreign Affairs from earlier this year, where two former National Security Council members who worked under President George W. Bush boasted that the recent surge in oil production “should help put to rest declinist thinking” and “sharpen the instruments of U.S. statecraft.” In the following issue, Ed Morse of Citibank went further. “Despite its doubters and haters, the shale revolution in oil and gas production is here to stay,” he declared.
But a new report throws cold water on the thinking that U.S. shale production will be around for the long haul. The Post Carbon Institute conducted an analysis of the top seven oil and top seven natural gas plays, which together account for 89 percent of current shale oil production and 88 percent of shale gas production.
The report found that both shale oil and shale gas production will peak before 2020. More importantly, the report’s author, David Hughes, says oil production will decline much more quickly than the EIA has predicted.
That’s largely because of high decline rates at shale wells across the country. Unlike conventional wells, which can produce relatively stable rates for a long period of time, shale oil and gas wells experience an initial burst of production in the first few years, followed by a precipitous decline thereafter.
Hughes estimates that the average shale oil well declines at a rate of between 60 and 91 percent over three years. Wells in the Bakken decline by 45 percent per year, which stands in stark contrast to the 5 percent annual decline for an average conventional well.
Or put another way, oil and gas companies will have to keep drilling at a feverish pace just to stand still. This means the industry is on a “drilling treadmill” that will be unsustainable over the long-term.
Predicting what oil production will be in 25 years is difficult, to say the least, but the Post Carbon report projects that oil production from the Bakken and Eagle Ford will be just one-tenth of the level that EIA is forecasting. The EIA predicts that the Bakken and the Eagle Ford will be producing a combined 1 million bpd in 2040. Hughes thinks it will be just a small fraction of that amount – a mere 73,000 bpd.
This is not the first time that David Hughes has taken aim at EIA data. In a December 2013 report, he skewered the high estimates for the potential of the Monterrey Shale in California, calling the EIA’s numbers “simplistic and highly overstated.” Several months later, the EIA was forced to back track on its figures, downgrading the recoverable oil estimates in the Monterrey by 96 percent.
Hughes says the implications of getting it wrong are “profound,” since so many companies are basing very large investments on incorrect projections. He says rosy estimates have cut into investment for renewables, while steering capital towards expensive oil and gas export terminals that should now be called into question.
An article in CleanTechnica points to the possibility of boom towns turning into “ghost towns” if the pace of drilling drops off. If David Hughes and The Post Carbon Institute are correct, there could be quite a few ghost towns popping up in the coming years as the shale revolution begins to fizzle.
Source and Full Report Here
05/21/2014 by Tyler Durden
There was some trepidation yesterday when after the first day of Putin’s visit to China the two countries did not announce the completion of the long-awaited “holy grail” gas dead, and fears that it may get scuttled over price negotiations. It wasn’t: moments ago Russia’s Gazprom and China’s CNPC announced, that after a decade of negotiations, the two nations signed a 30 year gas contract amounting to around $400 billion. And with the west doing all it can to alienate Russia and to force it into China’s embrace, this is merely the beginning of what will be a far closer commercial (and political) relationship between China and Russia.
So far there have been no public pricing details on the deal which accrording to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller is a “commercial secret”, and which is believed to involve Russia supplying 38 billion cubic metres of gas per year to China via a new eastern pipeline linking the countries.
According to Itar-Tass, the compromise between Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) on Russian gas price is estimated at $75 billion, citing the Deputy Head of the National Energy Security Fund Alexei Grivach. The differences on the price for 38 and 60 billion cubic meters supplies a year were $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion, he added, so the subject of the negotiations is quite a significant one.
Gazprom expected a base price of $400 for 1,000 cubic meters, an expert of the Eurasian Development Research Center of the Chinese State Council said in April, whereas the CNPC’s proposal was $350-360 for 1,000 cubic meters.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping on the second day of Putin’s two-day state visit to Shanghai. The price China will pay for Russian gas remains a “commercial secret” according to Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller. Gas will be delivered to China’s via the eastern ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline.
RT producers were informed of the landmark energy deal prior to its signing after a conversation with Miller.
Under the long-term deal, Gazprom will begin providing China’s growing economy with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year for the next 30 years, beginning in 2018. The details of the deal were discussed for more than 10 years, with Moscow and Beijing negotiating over gas prices and the pipeline route, as well as possible Chinese stakes in Russian projects.
Just ahead of Putin’s visit to Shanghai, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave reassurance that the agreed price would be fair.
“One side always wants to sell for a higher price, while the other wants to buy for a lower price,” Medvedev said. “I believe that in the long run, the price will be fair and totally comparable to the price of European supplies.”
A major breakthrough in negotiations came on Sunday as Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller sat down with his CNPC counterpart, Zhou Jiping, in Beijing to discuss final details, including price formulas.
Although Europe is still Russia’s largest energy market – buying more than 160 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas in 2013 – Moscow will use every opportunity to diversify gas deliveries and boost its presence in Asian markets.
“I wouldn’t look for politics behind this, but I have no doubt that supplying energy to the Asia Pacific Region holds out a great promise in the future,” Medvedev said.
In October 2009, Gazprom and CNPC inked a framework agreement for the Altai project which envisions building a pipeline to supply natural gas from fields in Siberia via the western part of the Russia-China border.
In March 2013, Gazprom and CNPC signed a memorandum of understanding on Russian gas supplies to China along the so-called eastern ‘Power of Siberia’ route. When both pipelines are activated, Russia can supply Asia with 68 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
Last year, China consumed about 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas and is expected to consume 420 billion cubic meters per year by 2020.
Regardless of what the final price ended up being, and whether or not China got the upper hand in the negotiations, the final outcome is there and it is real: as a result of his disastrous foreign policy in the past two months, Barack Obama finally pushed Russia into China’s hands, culminating with a deal that was ten years in the making and was never certain, until the Ukraine crisis.
And yes, this was all predictable from day one. Here is what we said precisely two months ago:
If it was the intent of the West to bring Russia and China together – one a natural resource (if “somewhat” corrupt) superpower and the other a fixed capital / labor output (if “somewhat” capital misallocating and credit bubbleicious) powerhouse – in the process marginalizing the dollar and encouraging Ruble and Renminbi bilateral trade, then things are surely “going according to plan.”
For now there have been no major developments as a result of the shift in the geopolitical axis that has seen global US influence, away from the Group of 7 (most insolvent nations) of course, decline precipitously in the aftermath of the bungled Syrian intervention attempt and the bloodless Russian annexation of Crimea, but that will soon change. Because while the west is focused on day to day developments in Ukraine, and how to halt Russian expansion through appeasement (hardly a winning tactic as events in the 1930s demonstrated), Russia is once again thinking 3 steps ahead… and quite a few steps east.
While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the “Holy Grail” energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may refrain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.
Here is what will likely happen next, as explained by Reuters:
Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.
The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances.
The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West.
* * *
To summarize: while the biggest geopolitical tectonic shift since the cold war accelerates with the inevitable firming of the “Asian axis”, the west monetizes its debt, revels in the paper wealth created from an all time high manipulated stock market while at the same time trying to explain why 6.5% unemployment is really indicative of a weak economy, blames the weather for every disappointing economic data point, and every single person is transfixed with finding a missing airplane.
To conclude with the traditional geopolitical balance of power summary: Putin wins (again), Obama loses (again), and the monument to the dollar’s status as world’s reserve currency gets yet another tarnishing blow.
April 29, 2014
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) on President Putin’s order yesterday accelerated the opening of the St. Petersburg Exchange (SPE), where prices for Russian oil and natural gas will be set in rubles instead of US dollars.
Putin’s order regarding the SPE was in direct response to the US placing sanctions yesterday upon Igor Sechin the CEO of the Russian energy giant Rosneft and a nominated board member of the SPE, and of which Deputy Minister for foreign relations, Sergey Ryabkov, had warned: “A response of Moscow will follow, and it will be painfully felt in Washington DC.”
Sechin, was directly threatened by the Obama regime earlier this month due to his October 2013 remarks at the World Energy Congress in Korea where he called for a “global mechanism to trade natural gas” and went on suggesting that “it was advisable to create an international exchange for the participating countries, where transactions could be registered with the use of regional currencies”.
Sechin, as one of the most influential leaders of the global energy trading community now has the perfect instrument to make this plan a reality with the SPE where reference prices for Russian oil and natural gas will be set in rubles instead of US dollars and could literally destroy the petrodollar.
As we reported earlier already Russia and India are planning to remove the Dollar, meanwhile many speculators believe that the Yuan may already have become a de facto reserve currency. Also to be noted is the epic $30 Billion Oil Pipeline undertaken by Russia, India, China that could shift the Geopolitical balance.
The use of this “Financial Nuclear Weapon” (the sale of oil in a currency other than the US dollar) which was previously deployed by Saddam Hussein, resulted in the total destruction of Iraq, but it failed to deter other countries angry with the highhandedness of the US.
Libya made another attempt and it resulted in the destruction of the country and the brutal murder of its leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Next was Iran. The US and the global financial war party found it much more difficult to isolate and annihilate Iran, even when it was threatened with outright nuclear attack by US and Israel. And in spite of unprecedented sanctions against Iran (which constitute economic warfare and are war crimes in itself), Iran stood defiant.
The leading members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Russia and China restrained themselves so as to preserve global stability.
However, the war party faction of the US took such restraint as weakness and went on a spree of regime change throughout the world to undermine the growing strength of BRICS.
The “straw that broke the camels’ back” was the unbridled and reckless coup against the elected President of Ukraine by US and NATO and orchestrated by the US State Department and led by the war-monger Victoria Nuland, who openly admitted that the US had disbursed through such organizations as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) over $5 Billion to facilitate the coup. Further to this just a couple of days back as reported by Bodhita US backed elite ‘Rape-Murder’ Alpha Squads were captured in Ukraine.
Critical to understand about the current Ukrainian Crisis, is that it has “absolutely nothing” at all to do with either Ukraine or its people, but should be understood for what it really is…a “sledgehammer” the US is attempting to use against Russia to prevent the opening and expansion of the SPE.
By perpetually expanding the US money supply, it’s important to note, America’s standard of living for its elite classes increases as well. The only problem with this situation is that the only way that it can be sustained is if the demand for the dollar and for US debt securities remains consistently strong.
Grasping this last point is extremely important. For if the artificial global US dollar demand, made possible by the petrodollar system, were ever to crumble, foreign nations who had formerly found it beneficial to hold US dollars would suddenly find that they no longer needed the massive amounts that they were holding.
This massive amount of dollars, which would no longer be useful to foreign nations, would come rushing back to their place of origin… America.
Obviously, an influx of dollars into the American economy would lead to massive inflationary pressures within their economic system and collapse it, along with that of the EU too.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this concept as the entire American monetary system literally hinges on this “dollars for oil” system. Without it, Washington would lose its permission slip to print excessive numbers of dollars.
With thousands of NATO-backed Romanian troops now moving to the Ukraine border, along with British and French fighter jets now being deployed to Lithuania and Poland to join their recently arrived US military allies, it cannot be ruled out that the US will attempt to start a war with Russia in order to protect their petrodollar scheme.
In spite of the fact that all Russian military forces have returned to their permanent bases and Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu assured his US counterpart Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday during an hour long phone conversation that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine, Moscow has become increasingly “alarmed” by the combined US-NATO military buildup on its borders that Minister Shoigu called “unprecedented”.
As for the Ukrainian people themselves being used as pawns by the US against Russia in this “petrodollar war”, their lives are quickly turning from despair to outright misery as they are forced to swallow the “bitter pill” being forced upon them by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is forcing their fuel and energy costs to skyrocket and taxes being raised on everything from alcohol to tobacco, not to mention the tens-of-thousands of public jobs being made redundant (layoffs and firings) and the nearly 5% cut in payments to pensioners.
Even worse for these “US Pawns”, wages now in Ukraine are, as a rule, not enough to feed a family, and the devaluation of their currency will make it totally impossible for these people to absorb these costs.
On the other hand, Western currency speculators will be able to profit from fluctuations in Ukraine’s currency and multinational corporations stand to benefit from privatization of those state assets that haven’t already been sold off.
It is critically important to note that back in 2008, when the US brought the world to the very brink of total economic collapse, then Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia should seize opportunities created by the weak US dollar. “Today, the global economy is going through uneasy times,” he said. “The role of the key reserve currencies is under review. And we must take advantage of it.”
Six years later that is what Putin is doing…nobody can say that they weren’t warned.
by Paul Craig Roberts via The Institute for Political Economy,
Is the US or the World Coming to an End?
It will be one or the other
2014 is shaping up as a year of reckoning for the United States.
Two pressures are building on the US dollar. One pressure comes from the Federal Reserve’s declining ability to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies shrivel and market knowledge of the Fed’s illegal price rigging spreads. The evidence of massive amounts of naked shorts being dumped into the paper gold futures market at times of day when trading is thin is unequivocal. It has become obvious that the price of gold is being rigged in the futures market in order to protect the dollar’s value from QE.
The other pressure arises from the Obama regime’s foolish threats of sanctions on Russia. Other countries are no longer willing to tolerate Washington’s abuse of the world dollar standard. Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system to inflict damage on the economies of countries that resist Washington’s political hegemony.
Russia and China have had enough. As I have reported and as Peter Koenig reports here http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38165.htm Russia and China are disconnecting their international trade from the dollar. Henceforth, Russia will conduct its trade, including the sale of oil and natural gas to Europe, in rubles and in the currencies of its BRICS partners.
This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value.
As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.
All evidence points to US economic failure in 2014, and that is the conclusion of John Williams’ April 9 report.
This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU. Washington’s reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground. Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government. Crimea quickly departed Ukraine and rejoined Russia. Other former Russian territories in Ukraine might soon follow. Protesters in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkov are demanding their own referendums. Protesters have declared the Donetsk People’s Republic and Kharkov People’s Republic. Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has threatened to put the protests down with violence. http://rt.com/news/eastern-ukraine-violence-threats-405/ Washington claims that the protests are organized by Russia, but no one believes Washington, not even its Ukrainian stooges.
Russian news reports have identified US mercenaries among the Kiev force that has been sent to put down the separatists in eastern Ukraine. A member of the right-wing, neo-Nazi Fatherland Party in the Kiev parliament has called for shooting the protesters dead.
Violence against the protesters is likely to bring in the Russian Army and result in the return to Russia of its former territories in Eastern Ukraine that were attached to Ukraine by the Soviet Communist Party.
With Washington out on a limb issuing threats hand over fist, Washington is pushing Europe into two highly undesirable confrontations. Europeans do not want a war with Russia over Washington’s coup in Kiev, and Europeans understand that any real sanctions on Russia, if observed, would do far more damage to Europeans. Within the EU, growing economic inequality among the countries, high unemployment, and stringent economic austerity imposed on poorer members have produced enormous strains. Europeans are in no mood to bear the brunt of a Washington-orchestrated conflict with Russia. While Washington presents Europe with war and sacrifice, Russia and China offer trade and friendship. Washington will do its best to keep European politicians bought-and-paid-for and in line with Washington’s policies, but the downside for Europe of going along with Washington is now much larger.
Across many fronts, Washington is emerging in the world’s eye as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and totally corrupt. A Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney used the occasion of his retirement to reveal that higher ups had squelched his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail,” because his SEC bosses were not focused on justice but “on getting high-paying jobs after their government service” by protecting the banks from prosecution for their illegal actions. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/
The US Agency for International Development has been caught trying to use social media to overthrow the government of Cuba. http://rt.com/news/cuba-usaid-senate-zunzuneo-241/
This audacious recklessness comes on top of Washington’s overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the NSA spying scandal, Seymour Hersh’s investigative report that the Sarin gas attack in Syria was a false flag event arranged by NATO member Turkey in order to justify a US military attack on Syria, Washington’s forcing down Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane to be searched, Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the misuse of the Libyan no-fly resolution for military attack, and on and on. Essentially, Washington has so badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the judgment and integrity of the US government that the world has lost its belief in US leadership. Washington is reduced to threats and bribes and increasingly presents as a bully.
The self-inflicted hammer blows to Washington’s credibility have taken a toll. The most serious blow of all is the dawning realization everywhere that Washington’s crackpot conspiracy theory of 9/11 is false. Large numbers of independent experts as well as more than one hundred first responders have contradicted every aspect of Washington’s absurd conspiracy theory. No aware person believes that a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes, operating without help from any intelligence agency, outwitted the entire National Security State, not only all 16 US intelligence agencies but also all intelligence agencies of NATO and Israel as well.
Nothing worked on 9/11. Airport security failed four times in one hour, more failures in one hour than have occurred during the other 116,232 hours of the 21st century combined. For the first time in history the US Air Force could not get interceptor fighters off the ground and into the sky. For the first time in history Air Traffic Control lost airliners for up to one hour and did not report it. For the first time in history low temperature, short-lived, fires on a few floors caused massive steel structures to weaken and collapse. For the first time in history 3 skyscrapers fell at essentially free fall acceleration without the benefit of controlled demolition removing resistance from below.
Two-thirds of Americans fell for this crackpot story. The left-wing fell for it, because they saw the story as the oppressed striking back at America’s evil empire. The right-wing fell for the story, because they saw it as the demonized Muslims striking out at American goodness. President George W. Bush expressed the right-wing view very well: “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.”
But no one else believed it, least of all the Italians. Italians had been informed some years previously about government false flag events when their President revealed the truth about secret Operation Gladio. Operation Gladio was an operation run by the CIA and Italian intelligence during the second half of the 20th century to set off bombs that would kill European women and children in order to blame communists and, thereby, erode support for European communist parties.
Italians were among the first to make video presentations challenging Washington’s crackpot story of 9/11. The ultimate of this challenge is the 1 hour and 45 minute film, “Zero.” You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU961SGps8g&feature=youtu.be
Zero was produced as a film investigating 9/ll by the Italian company Telemaco. Many prominent people appear in the film along with independent experts. Together, they disprove every assertion made by the US government regarding its explanation of 9/11.
The film was shown to the European parliament.
It is impossible for anyone who watches this film to believe one word of the official explanation of 9/11.
The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.
China and Russia protested but accepted Libya’s destruction even though it was to their own detriment. But Iran became a red line. Washington was blocked, so Washington decided to cause major problems for Russia in Ukraine in order to distract Russia from Washington’s agenda elsewhere.
China has been uncertain about the trade-offs between its trade surpluses with the US and Washington’s growing encirclement of China with naval and air bases. China has come to the conclusion that China has the same enemy as Russia has–Washington.
One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.
04/04/2014 by Tyler Durden
On the heels of Russia’s potential “holy grail” gas deal with China, the news of a Russia-Iran oil “barter” deal, it appears the US is starting to get very concerned about its almighty Petrodollar
- *U.S. HAS WARNED RUSSIA, IRAN AGAINST POSSIBLE OIL BARTER DEAL
- *U.S. SAYS ANY SUCH DEAL WOULD TRIGGER SANCTIONS
- *U.S. HAS CONVEYED CONCERNS TO IRANIAN GOVT THROUGH ALL CHANNELS
We suspect these sanctions would have more teeth than some travel bans, but, as we noted previously, it is just as likely to be another epic geopolitical debacle resulting from what was originally intended to be a demonstration of strength and instead is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of weakness.
As we explained earlier in the week,
Russia seems perfectly happy to telegraph that it is just as willing to use barter (and “heaven forbid” gold) and shortly other “regional” currencies, as it is to use the US Dollar, hardly the intended outcome of the western blocakde, which appears to have just backfired and further impacted the untouchable status of the Petrodollar.
“If Washington can’t stop this deal, it could serve as a signal to other countries that the United States won’t risk major diplomatic disputes at the expense of the sanctions regime,”
The US dollar’s position as the base currency for global energy trading gives the US a number of unfair advantages. It seems that Moscow is ready to take those advantages away.
The existence of “petrodollars” is one of the pillars of America’s economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer want to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom’s natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars.
Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the “sanctions war” between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency .
The main supporters of this plan are Sergey Glaziev, the economic aide of the Russian President and Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the biggest Russian oil company and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. Both have been very vocal in their quest to replace the dollar with the Russian ruble. Now, several top Russian officials are pushing the plan forward.
First, it was the Minister of Economy, Alexei Ulyukaev who told Russia 24 news channel that the Russian energy companies must should ditch the dollar. “ They must be braver in signing contracts in rubles and the currencies of partner-countries, ” he said.
Then, on March 2, Andrei Kostin, the CEO of state-owned VTB bank, told the press that Gazprom, Rosneft and Rosoboronexport, state company specialized in weapon exports, can start trading in rubles. “ I’ve spoken to Gazprom, to Rosneft and Rosoboronexport management and they don’t mind switching their exports to rubles. They only need a mechanism to do that ”, Kostin told the attendees of the annual Russian Bank Association meeting.
Judging by the statement made at the same meeting by Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, it is safe to assume that no resources will be spared to create such a mechanism. “ Some ‘hot headed’ decision-makers have already forgotten that the global economic crisis of 2008 – which is still taking its toll on the world – started with a collapse of certain credit institutions in the US, Great Britain and other countries. This is why we believe that any hostile financial actions are a double-edged sword and even the slightest error will send the boomerang back to the aborigines,” she said.
It seems that Moscow has decided who will be in charge of the “boomerang”. Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, has been nominated to chair the board of directors of Saint-Petersburg Commodity Exchange, a specialized commodity exchange. In October 2013, speaking at the World Energy Congress in Korea, Sechin called for a “global mechanism to trade natural gas” and went on suggesting that “ it was advisable to create an international exchange for the participating countries, where transactions could be registered with the use of regional currencies “. Now, one of the most influential leaders of the global energy trading community has the perfect instrument to make this plan a reality. A Russian commodity exchange where reference prices for Russian oil and natural gas will be set in rubles instead of dollars will be a strong blow to the petrodollar.
Rosneft has recently signed a series of big contracts for oil exports to China and is close to signing a “jumbo deal” with Indian companies. In both deals, there are no US dollars involved. Reuters reports, that Russia is close to entering a goods-for-oil swap transaction with Iran that will give Rosneft around 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day to sell in the global market. The White House and the russophobes in the Senate are livid and are trying to block the transaction because it opens up some very serious and nasty scenarios for the petrodollar. If Sechin decides to sell this Iranian oil for rubles, through a Russian exchange, such move will boost the chances of the “petroruble” and will hurt the petrodollar.
It can be said that the US sanctions have opened a Pandora’s box of troubles for the American currency. The Russian retaliation will surely be unpleasant for Washington, but what happens if other oil producers and consumers decide to follow the example set by Russia? During the last month, China opened two centers to process yuan-denominated trade flows, one in London and one in Frankfurt. Are the Chinese preparing a similar move against the greenback? We’ll soon find out.
Finally, those curious what may happen next, only not to Iran but to Russia, are encouraged to read “From Petrodollar To Petrogold: The US Is Now Trying To Cut Off Iran’s Access To Gold.”