Reviews | Welcome to the messy and dangerous world of expensive oil and gas

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Look at the Mediterranean, for example. Europe’s decoupling from Russia will heighten geopolitical tensions over gas around the sea. In the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is unhappy with its exclusion from energy projects and increasingly confrontational in asserting its interests . When Turkey struck a deal with Libya in November 2019 to claim new maritime economic borders for itself in the eastern Mediterranean, European Union leaders denounced the deal as a violation of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty and inconsistent with United Nations law. Today, the route of a gas pipeline to bring gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe is causing tensions, not only between Turkey and its neighbors, but also within NATO.

On the other side of the Mediterranean, Algeria is another potential source of energy for Europe. But that, too, comes with geopolitical complications: Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach announced last month that it may raise gas prices to Spain after Madrid withdrew its support for Algeria in mid-March. about the long-running dispute between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara. .

Less Russia also means more problems in the Middle East. Without Russian help, another Iranian nuclear deal becomes less likely, even as Moscow’s war amplifies all of Mr. Biden’s incentives to restore Iran’s energy exports. Rather than breaking with Russia, Arab oil producers appear to have doubled down on OPEC Plus, the new global oil cartel with an implicit anti-American bent. The shale boom has forced Saudi Arabia to seek broader alliances, including with Russia. Now, as tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia over Syria and Yemen ease, the Saudis will prioritize managing their competition with Russia over China – Israel’s biggest market. export of oil to the world – and the shared interests of both states in a dollarless payment system.

It is not only international politics that is shaped by the sustainability of current energy consumption. Domestic policy is also upset.

In condemning oil companies for failing to increase production, Mr Biden decided to favor voters desperate for an immediate price cut over Democrats who insist the climate crisis must remain the priority. For the European Union, the fact that European consumers are filling Moscow’s war chests has raised unpleasant ethical issues. As Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi asked Italians: “Do you prefer peace or the air conditioning on?”

But the reality is, as Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice-chancellor and economics minister, acknowledged before setting off on a trip to gas-rich Qatar last month, there is no energy strategy. ‘value-based’ fossil fuel for European countries other than importing all their energy from the US, Canada or Australia, which is impossible.

In Europe, an innocence about energy has been shredded and will not be easily restored. There, the Western political taboo of talking about reducing energy consumption by means other than greater efficiency is morally exhausted. It remains to be seen whether in the United States the ghosts of President Jimmy Carter’s failed exhortations to sacrifice personal comfort (wearing sweaters indoors, for example) as a means of restoring American energy independence will prove less ephemeral. . Thanks to shale, the United States is the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, which makes the country’s energy policy very different from that of most European countries, where foreign energy dependence has been an uncomfortable reality since. more than a century.

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