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Will Hochstein block Nord Stream 2?

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The aggressive build up of military forces on the Russian frontier with Donbass has prompted the United States to discuss the possibility of appointing a special envoy to deal with the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, writes Louis Auge.

We have learnt that this position may be offered to the former coordinator for international energy in the State Department during the time of Barack Obama, Amos Hochstein. This could mean that in the lobby against Nord Stream, President Biden might enlist his trusted adviser on Ukraine, Amos Hochstein (Amos Hochstein, who was the US Special Envoy for International Energy Issues, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy under President Barack Obama).

Hochstein rose to fame in Ukraine during the years when Joe Biden was the Vice President of the United States. His role was described in the notorious "tapes" of the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Derkach.

Derkach alleged that a scheme was invented by Hochstein, which was subsequently implemented jointly by Biden and by President Poroshenko. According to the tapes he released, during conversations with Poroshenko, Biden insisted that the head of Naftogaz, Andrei Kobolev, should retain his post. Poroshenko did indeed leave Kobolev in his position. Kobolev then confirmed Amos Hochstein as an independent director of the supervisory board of NJSC Naftogaz. Why? Is it possible that there might have been some hidden economic interests at stake, as alleged by Mr Derkach?

Under the Hochstein scheme, Russian gas was purchased through a gas pipeline company in Slovakia. A special pipe, one and a half kilometres long, was built with a branch from a large pipe through which Russian gas went to Europe. The so-called “reverse supply" of the gas took place. It turned out that Russian gas crossed the border of Ukraine with Slovakia through a custom built pipe and returned to Ukraine, but already with a surcharge of $50 per thousand cubic metres thereby allegedly generating revenues for its architects of $1.5 billion from this scheme during its operation.

Moreover, the operating companies for the scheme were managed by Andrei Favorov, an old acquaintance of Kobolev. This scheme also allowed the Biden family to receive the money that his son Hunter Biden received from the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma for his membership on the Board of Directors. Allegedly the commissions received by Hunter Biden amounted to $US 3-4 million, which today in America is not spoken of and is not mentioned by the country's leading media.

Where did Hochstein come from and why is President Biden promoting him to the role of the main lobbyist against Nord Stream 2? The story began in 2013, when, during the time of President Yanukovych, preliminary contracts were signed with the leading Western oil and gas corporations Exxon Mobile, Shell, Chevron and BP for the development of shale gas fields in the Donetsk region. A giant shale gas field was discovered with reserves of more than one trillion cubic meters of gas - the fourth largest in Europe.

The gas field had a ready-made infrastructure - namely the gas transportation system of Ukraine - and cheap labour ensured that extraction costs could be limited. In 2013, the first $10bn contract was signed with Royal Dutch Shell. But then the war began in Donbass, and all these giants left. But in 2018, the well-known Burisma company was taken over to develop shale deposits in the Yuzovskaya area in the region of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. What game were the Americans playing? Donbass shale gas is much cheaper than that produced in the United States, but still more expensive than Russian gas. In order to sell Ukrainian shale gas to Europe, it is necessary to block the "Nord Stream-2” project, in order to destroy the raw materials link between Europe and Russia and push Russia out of the European market. The United States has been working for a long time to prevent the link-up of technological Europe with raw material rich Russia. Under this scenario, Europe immediately becomes a leader in the race for world economic dominance.

In the geopolitical game against Russia and its integration with Europe, the role of the "Trojan horse" is played by Ukraine. Biden has assigned the role of the destroyer of this bundle to Amos Hochstein. It is clear that Hochstein will try to block Nord Stream with redoubled energy. The first shale gas production line in Donbass has already been launched by the Biden family company Burisma. After becoming president, Biden is already using all the levers of power in the White House to lobby for this project. It is clear that the USA needs the territory of Donbass. We know that there are large reserves of shale gas in Europe - in Norway, Poland, France. But they are not going to be developed, because of concerns about harm to the environment.

However Kyiv does not care about these problems. The military conflict in Donbass can cause the population to leave partially, this would assist the Americans to block Nord Stream and help them to convince Angela Merkel to abandon Nord Stream. In the event of a conflict, the plan was to demonstrate Russia's aggression against Ukraine, to exploit the arsenal of Western media and declare Russia an enemy. Merkel would then have no choice but to agree with the Americans and support the freezing of the Nord Stream project.

So, behind all these American sanctions and formidable statements could there be a pecuniary motive? Such a theory might explain the fury with which the United States unleashed its sanctions machine against the main whistleblower of Biden's schemes, namely Andriy Derkach. He was responsible for making public the recordings of conversations between Poroshenko and Biden.

Poroshenko and Biden denied the authenticity of these tapes, claiming that they were fabricated. But nobody filed a lawsuit, and nobody conducted an expert examination of the tapes. In August 2020, the director of the US National Centre for Counter-intelligence and Security, William Evanina, said that the Russian authorities "are using a number of measures" to denigrate former US Vice President Joe Biden. As an example, he cited "pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian" Andriy Derkach, who, he said, spreads allegations of corruption - including through leaked phone calls to "undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and the Democratic Party”.

But actually Evanina has never questioned the authenticity of the tapes; he refers to them only as “leaked phone calls”. In the middle of the American election campaign, at the request of Democratic senators, the US Treasury announced personal sanctions against Andriy Derkach for interfering in the American elections. In January 2021 – sanctions were announced against another six people. They all participated in Rudy Giuliani's film about corruption in Ukraine. Is it possible that they may have been targeted to prevent them from raising their profile, thereby clearing the way for the status quo to be left intact without further investigation?

Energy

Germany to speed up wind and solar energy expansion

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The German government plans to speed up the expansion of wind and solar energy by 2030 as part of its climate protection programme, a draft law seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday (2 June).

The new plan aims to expand installed production capacity of onshore wind energy to 95 gigawatts by 2030 from a previous target of 71 GW, and of solar energy to 150 GW from 100 GW, the draft showed.

Germany's installed capacity of onshore wind power stood at of 54.4 GW and of solar energy at 52 GW in 2020.

The climate protection programme also envisages funding of around 7.8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) for next year, including 2.5 billion euros for building refurbishment and an extra 1.8 billion euros for subsidies for electric car purchases.

The plan also includes doubling support to help industry change processes to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, such as in steel or cement production.

However, these financial pledges can only be approved after the German federal election in September.

The move comes after Germany's Constitutional Court ruled in April that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had failed to set out how to cut carbon emissions beyond 2030 after plaintiffs challenged a 2019 climate law. Read more.

Earlier this month, the cabinet approved draft legislation for more ambitious CO2 reduction targets, including being carbon neutral by 2045 and cutting German carbon emissions by 65% by 2030 from 1990 levels, up from a previous target for a 55% cut.

($1 = €0.8215)

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Energy

Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst announce new partnership to support investments in clean technologies for low-carbon industries

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Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Bill Gates have announced a pioneering partnership between the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to boost investments in the critical climate technologies that will enable the net-zero economy. Presented on the occasion of the sixth Mission Innovation Ministerial meeting, the new partnership aims to mobilize new investments of up to €820 million/$1 billion between 2022-26 to build large-scale, commercial demonstration projects for clean technologies – lowering their costs, accelerating their deployment, and delivering significant reductions in CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. 

This new partnership intends to invest in a portfolio of high-impact EU-based projects initially in four sectors with a high potential to help deliver on the economic and climate ambitions of the European Green Deal: green hydrogen; sustainable aviation fuels; direct air capture; and long-duration energy storage. In doing so, it seeks to scale up key climate-smart technologies and speed up the transition towards sustainable industries in Europe.  

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “With our European Green Deal, Europe wants to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. And Europe has also the great opportunity to become the continent of climate innovation. For this, the European Commission will mobilize massive investments in new and transforming industries over the next decade. This is why I'm glad to join forces with Breakthrough Energy. Our partnership will support EU businesses and innovators to reap the benefits of emission-reducing technologies and create the jobs of tomorrow.”

A press release is available online.

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Energy

EU Reporter partners "All Things Energy Forum" 02-04 June

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Starting tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd June, EU Reporter is All Things Energy Forum June 02-04 is an international digital stage that will engage more than 140 Speakers and 1000 Attendees in an interactive dialogue. This high-level event will welcome more than 30 countries to deal with six mega phenomena in a novel manner, combining approaches and contemplating interrelated impacts.

The event will span over two and a half days. The first day (02/06/2021) will host government ministers and high-level industry and public executives, in two introductory panel discussions:

  • All Things Energy the EU Green Deal and the Impact of COVID-19
  • Energy Projects in SE Europe and the East Med


During the following two days, Thursday 03 - Friday 04/06/2021, the conference will host more than 100 speakers in plenary as well as specialised parallel sessions that will cover all the aspects and challenges of the energy ecosystem. The agenda will not follow the classic lines of supply, demand, policy, technology, finance etc. Instead, a novel combinatorial approach will be used focusing on the links between 1. Epidemics, 2.Economics, 3. Energy trade, 4. International politics,
5. Energy/Environment policies and 6. Disruptive Technologies.


Key issues to be discussed include:

  • New Visions of Energy: Succeeding in a disruptive context
  • New regional perspectives: The role of gas in the transition to a lower carbon economy
  • What major technology breakthroughs are revolutionizing the energy sector
  • Dynamic resilience: Preparing for extreme weather, water stress and cyber risk
  • The business outlook for oil
  • The outlook for hydrocarbon economies
  • Megaprojects: Global impact and implications
  • Rethinking hydro: Powering tomorrow’s world
  • Driving innovation: The role of governments in the future of energy


Register here to join the first edition of #ATEForum2021: https://www.eventora.com/en/Events/allthingsenergyforum-2020

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