Le Monde: how mad pressure trump saved the gas pipeline from Russia to China

Le Monde: как безумное давление Трампа спасло газопровод из РФ в Китай

Located on Amur Blagoveshchensk has long been a subject of discord between Moscow and Beijing. In 1900, on the background of the boxer rebellion, the Chinese attacked the city, later it repulsed the Cossacks.A little over a century later, Blagoveshchensk has become a symbol of rapprochement between the two countries. It is associated with the Chinese city of Heihe on the other side of the Amur river free trade zone, which recently came to a completely different level with the completion of the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline giant Gazprom. This project, which opened December 2, was attended by Chinese leader XI Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, will have to supply to China of 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year (equivalent to the entire consumption of France) in 2025.The construction of this huge pipeline (the largest in the post-Soviet era) demanded investment of 55 billion dollars. “Power of Siberia” originates from the Chayanda field and passes through one of the most uninhabitable areas of the planet at a distance of 3 000 km to Blagoveshchensk.The most important question for Beijing and Moscowanyway, first project is interesting from the point of view of geopolitics. It is an essential step towards the rapprochement of China and Russia on the background of a significant deterioration in the relations of both countries with the West.The decision to launch the “Power of Siberia” was made in 2014, a few months after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, which resulted in a hit in the sales gas Western economic sanctions. The completion of the pipeline, in turn, coincided with the worsening of U.S. relations with China, whose energy ended up under threat.Thus, the project is of great importance for Beijing and Moscow. China is the world’s largest importer of gas. According to the International energy Agency, in 2024 it will account for 40% of global demand. According to forecasts, the Chinese Corporation CNPC, the volume of its consumption in the country is expected to grow by 150% by 2040.These appetites are explained at the same time the dynamic development of the economy and the government’s desire to find a replacement for coal, which produces too much polluting emissions. Launched in 2018, the program called “Plan to win the war for the blue sky” is designed to encourage families and businesses to switch to gas. Last year consumption grew by 17% compared to 2017, and the increase in imports exceeded 30%.In a good momentNow, these energy transformations are under threat started by Donald trump’s trade war. Despite detente with the signing on 13 December (very vague) trade agreement between Washington and Beijing, “Power of Siberia” came in handy to ensure security of supply in China. 2022 pipeline will provide 10% of total energy consumption in the country, and currently is considered the second phase of the project which could be extended to include the Eastern coast of China.Project for Russia is no less important. Now the country’s dependence on fossil energy accounting for 65% of exports, and oil and gas provide half of budget revenues.Vladimir Putin is increasingly looking to the East, because he has no choice: the situation in the West is seriously complicated. First of all, the efforts of the EU in the field of energy transformations to reduce the use of fossil energy has led to falling European gas imports by 10% over the last decade.Active lobbying Washingtonin addition, the Ukrainian crisis has touched the entire European supply. Construction coming to Germany through the Baltic sea bypassing Ukraine gas pipeline “Nord stream — 2” is nearing completion. But the States are out to stop him. The diplomatic arguments of the United States (the EU, they say, will strengthen thereby the dependence on Russian gas, and undermine the position of Ukrainian allies, who get a fee for the transit of Russian gas through its territory) — all these us arguments are barely covered with commercial considerations. Playing on the fear of Russian bear, Washington actively lobbying in Eastern Europe to purchase U.S. LNG, want that comes out more expensive than the Russian proposals.Tensions with Berlin further increased on 12 December after a vote in the U.S. House of representatives for sanctions against participating in the “Nord stream — 2” companies. “European energy policy determined in Europe and not in USA. In principle we do not accept external interventions and sanctions with extraterritorial effects,” dryly commented the foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas. This reaction contrasts sharply with what was said in Berlin in February: fear of trade restrictions Germany then promised to buy us LNG.Anyway, because of the constant throwing in relations with trading partners and established the image of an unreliable person Donald trump ultimately pushed them to seek alternative solutions. German social Democrat Carsten Schneider described the situation as follows: “the United States returned to the Wild West, where there is only the law of the strongest. Anyone who behaves this way, soon there will be allies.”The situation in the first place plays into the hands of Vladimir Putin. “Positioning itself between the European markets in the West and fast-growing Chinese market in the East, Russia will not only generate more revenue, but also strengthens its strategic position,” said Andrew hill of the S&P Global Platts.

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