Wednesday 10 December 2014

Questions about Ukrainian energy policy

I participated in a discussion in London yesterday (9 December) on “Is Ukraine ready to face the winter freeze: focus on diversification of energy supplies and embracing energy efficiency”. I made my comments in the form of questions and answers, as follows:

Q. Can Ukraine reduce gas demand further in 2015-20?

A. In the mid 2000s, Ukraine’s gas consumption was 75 bcm/year. It was 50 bcm in 2013 and will be about 42 bcm in 2014. That’s a 40%+ reduction, due to:

economic recession (which has reduced industrial demand, and naturally it is hoped that much of this will be restored);

high prices which have encouraged diversification to coal;

and some energy saving measures, also due to high prices.

Gas demand has already been reduced where it is easy to do so. But, assuming (i) a modest economic recovery, (ii) continued diversification to coal (and other fuels), and (iii) continued energy saving measures, it

Sunday 7 December 2014

Presentation: drivers of global fossil fuel use

Notes and slides from a presentation I did last month at the history department seminar at Sheffield Hallam university, outlining my project on the global history of fossil fuel consumption, have now been posted here NOTES and here SLIDES. And a description of the project is HERE.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Reducing European dependence on Russian gas

This paper, published this week – and downloadable from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies website here – assesses the real time-scales and costs for European countries of diversifying from imports of Russian gas. I am one of the co-authors; I contributed material on Ukraine, on the “southern gas corridor” from the Caspian, and on some geopolitical issues.

Friday 17 October 2014

Moscow seminar on The Russian Gas Matrix

On 16 October, The Russian Gas Matrix: how markets are driving change - which I co-edited - was the subject of a seminar at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) in Moscow. My colleague Jonathan Stern and I spoke about the book, and Vladimir Feigin (president of the Institute of Energy and Finance) and Anna Zhur (chief expert in the department of foreign economic activity of Gazprom) commented.

There was a big audience of academic researchers and journalists who follow the energy sector, students, and representatives of companies and international organisations. Questions and discussion focused on the impacts on the Russian gas sector of the deteriorating political relations between Russia and governments in Europe, which - notwithstanding the focus by Russian gas companies on opening up the Asian market - remains, and will remain, the main destination for Russian gas exports.

The slides of our presentation are on the IMEMO web site here. There is a report here (Russian only) and pictures here. Our warmest thanks to our colleagues at IMEMO for arranging the seminar.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

The Ukraine crisis: another crossroads on Russia's downward path

"Obsessive" focus on the Russian government's geopolitical aspirations "obscures larger issues", I argue in the Oxford Energy Forum (downloadable free here). Those issues include Russia's declining economic influence over, and energy trade with, Ukraine and other neighbours, and that "its own economy is becoming more and more one-sidedly a supplier of oil, gas and other raw materials to world markets, and its own development in the broadest sense is suffering as a result".

Sunday 20 July 2014

Ukraine's imports of Russian gas: how a deal might be reached

Russia stopped exporting gas to Ukraine on 16 June, and because of the political crisis between the two countries they are not close to restarting talks about the price of imports and debts for gas delivered previously. If the politics doesn't allow for talks to restart by the winter, this will become a serious crisis for Ukrainian citizens, on top of the suffering already being generated by the military conflict in the east. If politics moves in such a way as to allow talks to restart, then commercial and economic issues would again come to the fore, and I have written an Oxford Energy Comment on these. You can download it here.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Global history of fossil fuel consumption from 1950

In early 2014 I am starting a new research project on the global history of fossil fuel consumption since 1950. There is a project outline here. I welcome contact with other historians working on similar themes.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Russian gas: how it's changing

The changes in international natural gas markets since the 2008 economic crisis have impacted powerfully on Russia. This is the subject of a book, published in May 2014 – The Russian Gas Matrix: HowMarkets Are Driving Change – that I have written with my colleagues at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. It covers the way that Gazprom, Russia’s dominant gas company, has been affected by new pricing trends and regulatory regimes in Europe, its main export market; the increased competition between Gazprom and other producers in Russia itself; far-reaching change in CIS markets; and Russian hopes of opening up the Asian export market. It looks at choices being made about the gas industry’s future – on export strategy, domestic market reform, and models of upstream development and taxation – that will affect not only Russia’s future as an energy exporter, but also its economy and population.  

The Ukraine crisis and natural gas markets

The change of government in Kyiv, the Russian military action in Crimea and the danger of war all have implications for the economic relations between Russia, Ukraine and Europe, especially in the sphere of energy. Russia supplies 30% of Europe's natural gas, and much of it is transported via Ukraine. Together with my colleagues at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, I have written a comment, What the Ukraine Crisis Means For Gas Markets, published on 10 March 2014.