Does Russia Really Sell LNG to the U.S.?

In Euractiv, EWI Fellow Danila Bochkarev looks into the details of the recent deliveries of "Russian gas" to the U.S.

A tanker filled with liquefied natural gas (LNG) with “Russian DNA” arrived in Boston in early March. This was already the second shipment of so-called “Russian gas” to the United States: earlier this year the “Gaselys” tanker owned by the French energy company Engie delivered Yamal gas molecules from the Isle of Grain LNG terminal in the UK.

The news was something of a surprise for the media, which has almost exclusively portrayed the US as an exporter – not importer – of LNG.

Why does the U.S. — the world’s largest gas producer and net gas exporter — need to import LNG?

Following the “shale revolution” and the surge in natural gas output, imports of LNG to U.S. terminals were reduced to a bare minimum. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. LNG imports barely reached 2.21 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2017, with most cargos arriving from Trinidad in the Caribbean Basin.

Read the full commentary here.


Photo: "Arctic Discoverer LNG tanker 3068" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Yukon White Light

Glimmers of Hope for A Greener Future

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21, was a tough act to follow. At that event in 2015, delegates from 195 countries came together in Paris and adopted a landmark agreement to address climate change. The accord, known as the Paris Agreement, laid out the signatories' intention to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (and, ideally, well under that mark) by curbing greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing the global economy by 2060. Two years later, however, it's becoming increasingly clear that fulfilling the accord's objectives won't be enough to halt the effects of global warming. What's more, though COP21 established an ambitious plan for addressing climate change, it left hashing out the details for another year, another conference.

Expectations were high that this year's 23rd Conference of the Parties, or COP23, would offer the perfect venue for fleshing out the Paris Agreement. The summit, which Fiji presided over, drew 22,000 people from all over the world to Bonn, Germany, on Nov. 6-17 to hash out the next steps toward addressing climate change. COP23 lacked the fanfare of COP21, and some critics argued that its participants failed to take any meaningful action over the course of the meeting. On the conference's conclusion, the main takeaway was that climate change is still a top priority for policymakers, economists and voters worldwide. But that message, and the decisions that came out of COP23, nonetheless represented an achievement in the international fight against climate change.

Click to read the full commentary on Stratfor.

Photo: "Harnessing Nature" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by tommyscapes

2016 Annual Report

"Perhaps we are undergoing a period of historic change, where disorder is the new order. But even during such periods, history follows patterns. It is based on successions: one simple idea or action precedes more complex ones, shaping change and development. At the EastWest Institute, we believe one cannot afford to wait on history; rather, our role is to tackle specific issues before they worsen and turn into conflicts." — Cameron Munter, EWI CEO and President

The EastWest Institute is proud to release its 2016 Annual Report, highlighting last year’s programmatic activities, achievements and new initiatives.

The impact of the institute across the globe is a testament to the talented and diverse staff working across five offices, our distinguished Board of Directors and a profound global network of decision makers and experts that help facilitate our mission.

The Depoliticization of the European Gas Market

In Energy Post, EWI Senior Fellow Danila Bochkarev argues that policymakers need to keep away from unduly influencing markets and determining the behaviour of energy companies.

Despite uneasy relations between Europe and Moscow, Gazprom’s gas supplies to European consumers are projected to set a new record in 2016. In 2015, this Russian energy company delivered 158.6 billion cubic meters (bcm) to Europe and Turkey. In 2016 this number is set to hit almost 180 bcm—a 12% increase. This number includes exports to all European countries minus three Baltic States plus Turkey. Gazprom’s exports to the EU28 in 2016 are estimated at around 153 bcm. (Global natural gas exports of Gazprom went up from 195.7 bcm in 2015 to 210 bcm in 2016.)

As EU-28 gas demand increased by around 6% to 447 bcm last year, according to figures from Eurogas, this means that the share of Russian gas in Europe consumption went up to around a third. Most of the increase in Europe’s gas imports (around 30 bcm in 2016) was covered by Russia (some 20 bcm).

What these figures show is that EU utilities are not afraid of Gazprom and are eager to buy cheap energy from Russia. Gazprom does not disclose the prices it charges its European clients, only an average price charged for its European customers. Gazprom’s average European gas price was $182.50/1,000 cu m in the first half of 2016, Gazprom’s average price for 2016 is estimated at around $165-$170/1,000 cm.


Read the full commentary here.

Consequences of Alternative Energy Supplies in a Competitive EU Gas Market

EWI Senior Fellow, Danila Bochkarev, examines the effects of alternative energy supplies in a robust and competitve EU gas market.

In February 2016, the European Commission released the “EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage” as part of its sustainable energy security package. According to this document, access to LNG is expected to increase security of supply, reduce dependence on Russian gas and allow European consumers to take advantage of the global ‘gas glut’ and the availability of cheap LNG.

On the one hand, investment in LNG seems to be illogical in the present market conditions – according to the International Gas Union (IGU), as the data for EU LNG terminal utilization rate averaged only 25% in 2015. In January – April 2016 this year this number was even lower – according to Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) which confirmed that the average usage of Europe’s re-gasification facilities was around 17%. On the other hand, LNG supporters point out that energy security is above all imperative. A number of EU member states – particularly in Southeast Europe – are still disconnected from global/European natural gas markets and heavily dependent upon a single supplier.  Therefore, new LNG terminals are seen as a “bridge” between the gas markets in Europe. Furthermore, rapidly declining domestic production and the projected increase of Europe’s dependency on gas imports from third countries requires the EU to strengthen the resilience of its markets.

Click here to read the full article on

Wars? It´s About Resources – Stupid!


Militias burning civilians in South Sudan, rebel commanders marching girls to forced sex in Congo, Mozambique army hunting an elusive mutiny leader – it´s the economy stupid! Brazen wars, especially in Africa, have one common link – a burning lust to monopolize dwindling fresh water reserves in Nile basin, lucrative coltan metal deposits in Congo, and natural gas wells dotting Mozambique´s coast. 

To end devastating resource based wars, the solution begins by cutting the artery of violence – that is illicit finance dealings. Militia, and rampaging armies are motivated by external “petro-dollars” before they cross their spears against civilians. For example, the UN Security Council Group of Experts in October 2012, declared that traders in Rwanda, East Africa, profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are helping fund a rebellion in their resource-rich neighbor. 

In more stark revelations, the report accused neighbors Uganda and Rwanda of arming, training and providing troop advice to rebels fighting the Congo government. This is a clear, bloody fight over lucrative minerals in an area where Chatham House, the British think-tank, says an estimated 10 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on gold and metals that enrich the global electronic industry. Therefore, to choke Congo´s ruinous wars, that have claimed over 4 million lives, cut the route of “war finance.” 

This is simple yet so difficult. The surest step to lasting piece is to clamp down on bankers, oil corporations, foreign armies and dealers that supply millions of dollars and weapons to Congos´s rebels. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime is right in saying “illicit money laundering is devastating to peace and economies.” To save water or mineral resources in conflict affected countries like Congo, there must be bilateral cooperation to properly train and deploy customs officers, financial crimes accountants, weapons inspectors, weapons embargo lawyers. 

This is too heavy a task to leave to a poor country like Congo alone. International specialist agencies like INTERPOL, UN, donor goverments and peacekeepers must cooperate. It is of paramount importance to pay decent salaries to international law enforcers in poor countries so they remain motivated to challenge illicit financiers of resource based wars. 

To reverse resource wars and secure natural resources in poor countries the arm of international justice must bite hard on offenders. Congo and Liberia, again, comes to mind, and the International Criminal Court comes into the spotlight. For instance, Liberia´s ex-president, militia leader, and “blood diamond” war financier, Mr. Charles Taylor, has been jailed and brought to book in a landmark case at the International Criminal Court. Thus, one of Africa´s messiest diamond wars, where civilians endured the cutting off of their arms “short sleeve” machete attacks, has ended. Liberia has an elected country and its diamond deposits are driving peace and a 6, 2 % annual economic growth according to the World Bank. Liberia is a perfect case study of how restorative justice is an excellent tool to guard a country´s natural resources. I say: donor countries, universities, foundations must train more human rights lawyers, grassroots peace monitors, and qualified judges to bring war crimes financiers to book. When militias and resource plundering armies know they can’t kill or enslave with impunity, countries and rural communities will feel emboldened to enjoy their natural resources in a transparent manner. 

The recent jailing of Congo ex vice president and warlord, Jean Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court in The Hague is an inspiring example. Open Data, modern information technology tools, perhaps are the greatest tools to prevent future wars and ensure a transparent sharing of dwindling water resources. Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia are a perfect example today. These powers in the horn of Africa are engaged in a gruesome quarrel over control of the precious Nile River water. One is blasting along the river, building water gobbling electricity dams, the other is attempting to dry the Nile stream and choke off the neighbor’s irrigation systems. This won’t end well. 

“The Nile must be shared, or the results will be catastrophic,” says Robert D. Kaplan is Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor a geopolitical intelligence firm, and defence author. I propose: satellite technology mapping of Nile water reserves, drone collection of Nile water flow patterns, and nuclear isotope analysis of Nile water longevity must all be deployed to measure whether competition over the water is sustainable. When science data about the potential of Nile water for agriculture or trade are shared transparently, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan can possibly cooperate in safeguarding the Nile and peacefully sharing its waters. 

In summary – I am tempted to say hitting hard on war financiers, revamping international prosecutions and data guidance is the right mixture to guard natural resources and peace.


This essay was the third place winner in the 2016 Nextgen Essay Contest. Ms. Simango is an A-Level High school student at Mutare Girls High School, Zimbabwe, specialising in Biology. Her main interests are tennis, debating, volunteering and choral music.

More information about Nextgen is available at


Subscribe to RSS - Food-Water-Energy