SCW NEWSWATCH: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony

Arctic Region Map

[click here to jump to embedded PDF of full document]

“Russia’s Arctic region is strategically important for the Kremlin …. First, it contains major population centers: With 350,000 inhabitants, Arkhangelsk is the largest Arctic town, followed by Murmansk, with 300,000 … Under … Putin, the Russian Arctic has been emphasized as a patriotic and nationalistic theme. Secondly, Russia’s economy relies heavily on its oil and gas industry, and such resources are heavily present in the Arctic, including in the Yamal region, where Russia has recently developed a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) plant and terminal. Russia … is particularly sensitive to security issues around energy infrastructure ….

Thirdly, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) … along Russia’s northern shore, between the Kara Sea and the Bering Strait [] is becoming increasingly navigable. … Russia’s Northern Fleet is based in the Kola Peninsula, near Murmansk, and contains two-thirds of Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet … the Arctic … protects Russia’s strategic deterrent and … allows a sizable share of its Navy to reach the northern Atlantic. Russia’s military capabilities in the Arctic have steadily increased over the past ten years. Russia has opened new airfields and refurbished old ones; created a dedicated northern command for the region; and set up two Arctic brigades. It also is planning to substantially increase its icebreaker fleet … already … the largest in the world. Russia’s new military base on Aleksandra Land is touted as the ‘largest building in the entire circumpolar high Arctic.’ …”

Click here for: “The New Geopolitics of the Arctic; Russia’s and China’s Evolving Role in the Region” – RAND/ Stephanie Pezard/ Canadian House of Commons Testimony 









Arctic Region Map



SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Germany to back Russian gas link despite Ukraine tensions” – Reuters

File Photo of Gas Flame, adapted from image at energy.gov

“Germany will not withdraw its political support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia, its foreign minister said … as some lawmakers suggested curtailing the project to punish Moscow for its seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crew. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. … Russia’s Gazprom is the sole shareholder in Nord Stream 2, shouldering half of the construction cost. Its Western partners are Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV. …”

Click here for: “Germany to back Russian gas link despite Ukraine tensions” – Reuters





 

SCW RUSSIAWIRE: “Russia clashes with Western oil buyers over new deals as sanctions loom” – Reuters

File Photo of Oil Wells with Mountains in Background, adapted from image at blm.gov by Steven C. Welsh www.stevencwelsh.info :: www.stevencwelsh.com

“Russian energy majors are putting pressure on Western oil buyers to use euros instead of dollars for payments and introducing penalty clauses in contracts as Moscow seeks protection against possible new U.S. sanctions. … Western oil majors and trading houses have clashed with Russia’s third and fourth biggest producers, Gazprom Neft and Surgutneftegaz, over 2019 oil sales contract terms during unusually tough annual renegotiation in recent weeks. … mirror[ing] a similar stand-off between Western buyers and Russia’s top oil producer, Rosneft.

* * *  Russia has been under U.S. and EU sanctions since 2014 when it invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The sanctions have been repeatedly widened to include new companies and sectors, making it tough for Russian oil firms to borrow money abroad, raise new capital or develop Arctic and unconventional deposits. * * * … Russia supplies over 10 percent of global oil ….”

Click here for: “Russia clashes with Western oil buyers over new deals as sanctions loom” – Reuters







 

 

SCW NEWSWATCH: “Russia signs pact for six nuclear reactors on new site in India” – Reuters

Asia Map, adapted from image at cia.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

“India and Russia … signed a pact to build six more nuclear reactors at a new site in India following summit talks …. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also agreed to cooperate on India’s plan for a manned space mission. Russian state-owned reactor manufacturer Rosatom said … the two countries want to build six Russian-design nuclear reactors on a new site in India, boost nuclear cooperation in third countries and new nuclear technologies and are considering building nuclear plants together. The firm said Russia would offer to build its third-generation VVER reactor on the new site and would increase the level of participation of Indian companies ….

[T]he pact is not a firm contract … but an agreement to work toward a contract. … India has not chosen the new site yet, which could be controversial …. Last year, the Russian and Indian governments signed an agreement to build reactors 5 and 6 on the site and Putin said at the time that Russia is ready to build a dozen reactors in India over … 20 years. …”

Click here for: “Russia signs pact for six nuclear reactors on new site in India” – Reuters







SCW NEWSWATCH & VIDEO: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy

Oil Wells and Sunset

“Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping an extra 1 million barrels a day of oil and could do even more. Yet the market [has had only a muted price reaction]. After their September meeting … spurred prices to a four-year high, the world’s two largest oil exporters sought … to ease … price worries of consumers, and the U.S. president. Russia is pumping record volumes of crude … Saudi Arabia is almost there ….

… Trump has been blaming [OPEC] for rising crude prices ever since he [ended] the [Iran] nuclear agreement … and reimpose[d] sanctions. Last month, the group appeared to rebuff his calls for a rapid production increase to offset the drop in Iranian shipments, prompting a surge in prices and even harsher rhetoric. … Russia … already broke its post-Soviet production record last month [and] could add another 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of supply within a ‘few months,’ according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak. The oil price is … probably ‘a bit too high,’ he said ….”

Click here for: “Saudis and Russia Open the Oil Taps While the Market Shrugs” – Bloomberg/ Elena Mazneva/ Annmarie Hordern/ Dina Khrennikova/ Grant Smith/ Jack Farchy










NEWSWATCH [Symantec 10.20.17]: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group; Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Photo of Electrical Power Lines in Countryside with Sunset in Background, adapted from image at energy.gov

“The energy sector in Europe and North America is being targeted by a … wave of cyber attacks that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations. The group behind these attacks is known as Dragonfly. … in operation since at least 2011 … [they have] re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period following exposure by Symantec and a number of other researchers in 2014. … ‘Dragonfly 2.0’ campaign … appears to have begun in late 2015 [and] shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns …. disruptions to Ukraine’s power system in 2015 and 2016 were attributed to a cyber attack …. there have also been media reports of attempted attacks on the electricity grids in some European countries, as well as reports of companies that manage nuclear facilities in the U.S. being compromised by hackers. The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in … learning how energy facilities operate and … gaining access to operational systems themselves … the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so. …”

Click here for: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – Symantec 10.20.17







NEWSWATCH: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code, adapted from image at ornl.gov

“The Trump administration … blamed the Russian government for … cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid … the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. … Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing …. a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors’ had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities ‘where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.’  * * *  … Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by … Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. …”

Click here for: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters







NEWSLINK: “Russia’s Oil Cuts Won’t Be So Easy If OPEC Deal Is Extended; Rosneft and Lukoil plan higher spending and more drilling” – Bloomberg

Oil Wells and Sunset

“For #Russian #oil companies, the historic agreement to boost prices by cutting output in conjunction with [#OPEC] was an easy win. Extending the deal will be less straightforward. Cuts so far this year came alongside the traditional seasonal stagnation in Russian production, meaning the country made relatively few sacrifices in exchange for an increase in crude prices of more than 10 percent. For the powerful Russian oil bosses who plan to discuss the OPEC accord with Energy Minister Alexander Novak this week, a decision by the government to extend the cuts beyond June would stymie plans to boost output, creating many more headaches than the initial agreement. …”

NEWSLINK: “#IslamicState increases #oil and #gas sales to #Assad, officials say” – Wall Street Journal/Fox News

Syria Map

“#IslamicState has ramped up sales of #oil and #gas to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-#Assad, U.S. and European officials said, providing vital fuel to the government in return for desperately needed cash. … helping sustain Islamic State amid unprecedented military pressure on the militant group in both #Syria and# Iraq. It is also helping the group despite the regime’s insistence that it is dedicated to eradicating the militant group with the help of its top allies Russia and Iran. … Oil and gas sales to Mr. Assad’s regime are now Islamic State’s largest source of funds, replacing revenue the group once collected from tolls on the transit of goods and taxes on wages ….”

NEWSWATCH: “Judge puts hold on plan to open California lands to fracking” – AP/U.S. News & World Report

Artist's Rendition of Fracking

A federal judge … tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of lands in central California to oil drilling and fracking. … U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald …. The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas from rock. … the BLM must provide more study on the effects fracking will have in the area. He gave the agency’s attorneys until Sept. 21 to argue why he should not issue an injunction …. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a pair of environmental groups … The land involved … is about 1.1 million acres of public lands and federal mineral estate in the mostly agricultural central valley, the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, and parts of the central coast.

Click here for AP/U.S. News & World Report “Judge puts hold on plan to open California lands to fracking”

 



 

 



IMF: Russia still facing risk from low oil prices Country remains in recession for 2016, but returns to slow growth by next year.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's At Night

Russia’s economy returns to modest growth next year, but faces medium-term risks from volatility in crude oil prices, the International Monetary Fund said.

An IMF assessment found the Russian economy contracted by 3.7 percent last year because of the collapse in crude oil prices. The economy remains in recession this year before growth resumes at an estimated 1 percent next year. * * * [OPEC] said it expected Russian oil supplies would increase slightly to average almost 11 million barrels per day in 2016, a level that’s higher by 10,000 bpd from the previous estimate. More narrowly, however, second quarter output was 40,000 bpd lower than the first quarter average.

Click here for UPI: “IMF: Russia still facing risk from low oil prices; Country remains in recession for 2016, but returns to slow growth by next year”

NEWSWATCH: “Oil Falls Amid Warnings of Retreat to $40 on Rocky Rebalance” – Bloomberg

Oil Rig file photo

Oil fell amid forecasts prices may slide toward $40 a barrel as consumption falters and halted supplies return.

Futures fell 0.6 percent in New York. Analysts from BNP Paribas SA to JBC Energy GmbH warned prices may sink towards $40 a barrel amid a global glut of supply and weakening demand. Prices on Friday pared earlier losses of as much as 1.4 percent after data from China showed its economy is stabilizing and the country processed a record amount of crude.

* * *

Oil has traded between about $44 and $52 a barrel since early June after almost doubling from a 12-year low in February amid a spate of supply disruptions and falling U.S. output. Prices have been whipsawed this week, pulled down by U.S. fuel data that signaled faltering demand and rallying when global equity markets advance and a weakening dollar bolstered commodities.

Click here for Bloomberg: “Oil Falls Amid Warnings of Retreat to $40 on Rocky Rebalance”