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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Energy in the end of Summer, 2009 -biofuels and more

  1. EU mulls extending green criteria beyond biofuels
  2. France's GDF Suez to join Nord Stream pipeline
  3. Lithuania gives cold shoulder to Nord Stream
  4. Russia Gazprom unveils strategies for Turkey
Quote of the day:
But I think that Europe should be for everyone and plans and pipes should be settled on the table, visible for everyone, so that everyone is not happy, but at least ok with the decision. And for example, if we have a pan-European gas/electricity grid, even if a country is bypassed, it will be able to profit from the new pipes/projects. And now this is good, right?

EU mulls extending green criteria beyond biofuels

24 August 2009

The European Commission has begun consultations on tackling indirect land-use change caused by agro-fuel production, floating the idea that such criteria could be applied more generally to a range of other agricultural commodities.

The EU's new Renewable Energy Directive obliges member states to ensure that 10% of their transport fuel comes from renewable sources, including biofuels, by 2020.

The goal was aimed at contributing towards the bloc's climate goals, but questions have been raised about the unintended consequences of replacing large forested areas and food production with energy crops.

To address this issue, the directive requires the Commission to present a report by the end of 2010 on how such "indirect land-use changes" impact on greenhouse gases and whether they should be tackled.

But a consultation paper seen by EurActiv reveals that the EU executive is ambitiously planning to come up with a document and potentially a legislative proposal as early as next March. This is to ensure that member states can take them into account when submitting their national renewable energy action plans by the end of June 2010.

The non-paper, drafted by the Commission's transport and energy (TREN) and environment DGs, lists several options to take into account the effects of land-use change. It shows that the Commission is considering addressing the general issue of land-use change instead of limiting its approach to biofuels.

The document suggests that the restrictions on land-use change applied to biofuels could be imposed on other commodities and consuming countries. This could be done by encouraging other administrations to adopt the same restrictions and by encouraging other industries to apply these on a voluntary basis, it states.

Moreover, the EU could require that goods sold on its market are tagged with labels stating compliance with the restrictions, the non-paper reads.

One alternative would be to conclude international agreements to protect "carbon-rich habitats" like rainforests in countries where cultivation patterns are likely to be affected, it states.

However, the Commission believes that such a general approach would require putting in place measures that stretch beyond the scope of the report required by the Renewables Directive, and would take more time to execute.

The rest of the document thus specifically concentrates on biofuels. The minimum required greenhouse gas savings already included in the directive could either be tightened or considered as an adequate "cushion", ensuring that the policy delivers an "acceptably high" greenhouse gas benefit, it says.

Finally, the document floats the idea of promoting differentiated consignments for individual biofuels.

For example, bonuses could be increased for biofuels which do not come from land, or additional sustainability criteria could be set for agro-fuels produced from crops that are likely to cause damaging land-use change. Furthermore, an indirect land-use change factor could be included when calculating greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels, once a methodology has been adopted.

In addition to comments on the feasibility, uncertainty and administrative burden of the proposed measures, the Commission is seeking feedback on the international trade implications of biofuel sustainability criteria. source

My comment: I really don't get why these directives take so long to become alive. It was clear that the current decisions on biofuels are bad and outdated, then why it should be so complicated to make a new one, that isn't so senseless?! I truly hope that this one will passes the soonest possible, though I doubt. As probably most of you know, the real problem comes not so much from the biofuels themselves, as from our bad economic. Biofuels by themselves are as green as a plant can be, obviously greener than coal and oil. The problem comes when you cut forests to grow biofuels, or replace food production with biofuel production. Then you change the equation and instead of reducing the CO2 (and other!) emissions, you indirectly increase them. Not to mention the ecological and economical impact of your stupidity and greed. But who's guilty? Not you, but the directives that doesn't take into account the reality. And now, when they have the opportunity to make something good, I hope, they will take that chance. But I doubt. Because as hinted in the article. the countries producers of biofuels like Brazil and USA are against them. If you wonder why, google "devastation of Amazon jungle" for example. And similar.

And what I like even more is the idea to regulate indirect land use. I'm not sure if deforesteration for profit enters here, but it would be good if it does. Because this is a major problem for Eastern Europe, where there are still forests, but where the governments are not strong enough to deal with the problem and the mafia is cutting the trees without any trace of punishment. But again, I doubt such broad directive could or would pass.

France's GDF Suez to join Nord Stream pipeline

30 July 2009

GDF Suez, one of the world's largest utilities, is negotiating its participation in the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, which is designed to bring Russian gas directly to Germany by bypassing Ukraine, representatives of the project told EurActiv yesterday (29 July).

GDF Suez, which owns Europe's biggest gas network, will probably complete talks to join the Nord Stream pipeline by the end of the summer, Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said on 28 July, according to reports in the Russian press.

The move to add to the project's investor base would involve reducing stakes held by German companies, Medvedev told reporters. Gazprom owns 51% of the link, Wintershall Holding and E.On Ruhrgas have 20% each and Nederlandse Gasunie has 9%.

The French daily Le Monde wrote that the rapprochement between GDF Suez and Gazprom carried particular significance after France had been ousted from the Nabucco gas pipeline project at the insistence of Turkey. Ankara's move came in retaliation to Paris's opposition to Turkey's EU accession, the French daily wrote.

Speaking to EurActiv, Sebastian Sass, head of Nord Stream's representation to the EU, confirmed that the company was in negotiations with EDF Suez.

The negotiations were conducted between the Nord Steam shareholder, and not directly with the gas pipeline company or management, he explained. "GDF has made an offer. GDF is interested in joining the Nord Stream company. I can confirm that the other shareholders are positive about this interest of GDF. But anything else is subject to negotiations," Sass said.

Le Monde explained that Russia's tactic was to bring on board France to counterbalance critics of the pipeline within the EU, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Regarding France's interest, Le Monde writes that Suez probably has in mind future cooperation with the French group Total, which was invited in 2007 by Russia to help develop the Shtokman gas field in Siberia, the future supply source for Nord Stream.

There is a French will to develop energy partnerships with Moscow, a sector which German companies have occupied for a long time, the daily concludes. source

My comment: Very interesting, huh? Especially how Turkey managed to keep France out of the deal of Nabucco. When Germany isn't less against Turkey 's accession than France is. Very very interesting. I don't understand how countries are not afraid to deal with Turkey after all this not very kind actions. True, they have the right to be angry over the EU problem but in the end, they are not part of Europe, like it or not, so they anger isn't justified.But still, they manage to keep their positions so stable in the EU. And now, we see that Russia seems to want to keep Bulgaria out of South Stream... Well, I guess we'll join Ukraine in being screwed. Because it's obvious that there will be another gas crisis and that we'll be again on the cold.

Lithuania gives cold shoulder to Nord Stream

27 August 2009

Dalia Grybauskaite, a former European commissioner who was recently elected Lithuanian president, has displayed hostility towards the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, which is designed to bring Russian gas directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

At a press briefing in the European Parliament yesterday (26 August), Grybauskaite was asked whether Nord Stream was still a priority for the EU.

Her response was terse: "I'm hearing for the first time that this is a priority project for the EU," said Grybauskaite, who until recently was European commissioner responsible for financial programming and budgetary matters.

Her host Jerzy Buzek, a former Polish prime minister who was recently elected president of the European Parliament, said he concurred with her "100%".

In fact on 6 September 2006, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers recognisedexternal the North European gas pipeline as "a project of European interest," and the scheme was described by Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs as "a priority project" on several occasions.

However, it may be argued that ever since then, the route of the pipeline has been modified to avoid the territorial waters of countries unfriendly with Moscow.

In more general terms, both Buzek and Grybauskaite highlighted the need for the EU to put in place a "common energy policy," although they both recognised that such a project was not envisaged in the treaties.

Asked by EurActiv if such a common energy policy would require the introduction of an EU "energy czar" powerful enough to face up to Gazprom and the Kremlin, Grybauskaite used the occasion to play on words.

"Czars in Europe – this is maybe not a good idea," she said amid laughter. She added that although the Lisbon Treaty contained some provisions for more coordination in energy policy, the problem was not the treaties but a lack of political will among EU countries.

She added that Baltic countries still needed to interconnect their electrical systems to Europe, and expressed hope that the problem could be resolved with the assistance of the European Parliament.

Buzek said they had also discussed nuclear power. The Visaginas nuclear power plant will replace the current Soviet-built Ignalina NPP, which is being phased out at the end of this year as part of Lithuania's EU accession commitments. source

My comment: Hm, hm, obviously they are following the same route as Bulgaria. The cold showers I mean - there was very similar article not long ago (just after the election of the new Bulgarian government). Anyway I also think there should be pan-European energy plan, because, it's very sad when you see how a project that is good for one part of Europe is bad for another part of it. For example, everything that bypasses Ukraine is good for all the consumers outside Ukraine, but obviously not good for Ukraine itself. I'm not going to say who's wrong and who's right, I don't have the complete information on the situation in all of those very different countries. But I think that Europe should be for everyone and plans and pipes should be settled on the table, visible for everyone, so that everyone is not happy, but at least ok with the decision. And for example, if we have a pan-European gas/electricity grid, even if a country is bypassed, it will be able to profit from the new pipes/projects. And now this is good, right?

Russia Gazprom unveils strategies for Turkey

21 August 2009

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has acquired a majority stake in the Turkish Bosphorus Gas Corporation, hoping to boost its investment and become a powerful player in the future strategic Eurasian gas hub to be established in Turkey, the Russian press announced on 19 August.

Gazprom has expanded its share in Bosphorus Gas Corporation A.S. to 51 per cent, writes the daily Kommersant. The company, specialised in sales to final consumers, is expected to become a key player in the process of liberalization of the Turkish market, including the privatization of the gas supply network, the daily adds.

Gazprom had until now a 40% share in Bosphorus Gas, through its daughter company Gazprom Germania ZMB. The current share is 51% and the aim is to achieve soon a 71% share, officials said. But the Turkish press reportedly said that Gazprom already controls 71%, as it had acquired the shares of a Turkish key shareholder.

An unnamed high representative of Gazprom said that his company’s strategy is to make out of Bosphorus Gas “a powerbase of the Russian monopoly on the Turkish internal market”.

According to the source, Bosphorus Gas will boost its gas volume trade, participate in the privatization of pipelines and in building underground gas storages in Turkey. “In the perspective of Turkey becoming a huge world gas hub, Gazprom needs to have here its own companies,” the Gazprom representative told Kommersant.

On 6 August the prime ministers of Turkey and Russia signed a series of agreements on energy projects, including on Turkey’s acceptance that the “South Stream” gas pipeline would pass through Turkish territorial waters. As one of the aims of Russia with “South Steam” is to bypass Ukraine, the move would also help bypass Ukrainian territorial waters.

The source, quoted by Kommersant, however, dismissed the participation of Bosphorus Gas in “South Stream”, or in EU-favoured rival Nabucco pipeline. source

My comment: Well, that's what smart people do. The stupid discuss, the smart act. And they act intelligently. Because Turkey is obviously very good into getting a nice place in international projects. I won't hide I'm not happy about it. Maybe I'm little bit biased, after all, they are like invading us. They took the project of a highway built with European money and brought Turkish workers to work for them. And I think it's absolutely unethical the money that the EU gives to a memberstate to be poured into a third country (though it's our fault that we let them to root so deep into the ruling elite). So, obviously I dislike them. They are very hardly trying to kick Bulgaria out of South Stream. They kicked out France of Nabucco. They tried to use Nabucco to bargain for the EU accession. Well, maybe I'm paranoid, but that's not kind, nice or fair. They are aggressive and I don't like that. But obviously Russia knows very well where they can profit and I respect that. We all should.

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