It is definitely not worth sprinkling ashes on your head

Sergey Savchuk

Russian-speaking heirs of the Soviet Union at the end of December habitually congratulate each other on the New Year and wish new happiness. It is not known for sure whether this tradition of ours is known abroad, but a pool of Russophobic countries struggled to create such happiness, where the ma-in novelty was to be a co-mplete rejection of Rus-sian energy resources. It turned out, however, so-so.
While the whole country, in a family and friendly circle, celebrated the onset of 2023, Russian power engineers stood at a combat post, providing heat in houses and the light of millions of light bulbs, which were festively winking along the entire length of the geographic line from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Kaliningrad. And they summed up the results of the past year.
In particular, yesterday the head of ” Gazprom ” announced the official figures of the developments of the Russian monopolist and a lot of interesting details. Alexey Miller noted that the main feature of Gazpr-om’s work in the past year was the radical reversal of the vector of export activity. It turned out that last y-ear, at the request of the C-hinese side, natural gas su-pplies were not only ahead of schedule, but also in excess of the contract. That is, according to the results of the year, the supply agre-ement was overfulfilled – h-owever, by how much, Al-exey Miller did not detail.
Understanding the conjuncture of the “eastern range” and using data from the “western front”, one can draw up an approximate picture on one’s own.
Let’s start with the unpleasant, namely, with a record drop in supplies to the West, including to the EU countries. At the end of the year, exports to the far western countries fell by a record 46 percent and stopped at a historical level of 100.9 billion cubic meters. Gazprom finished 2021, which seemed already very distant, with 185 billion cubic meters, and 2020 was closed at the turn of 174.9 billion cubic meters. The main drop in supplies fell on the EU states, which, on average, cut their purchases of Russian blue fuel by two and a half times.
Naturally, such a failure could not but affect the production volumes. It is known that last year it sank by an impressive 20 percent and amounted to only 412.6 billion cubic meters. Here we will immediately make a clarification that this did not in the least violate the overall financial plans, especially in the tax deductions section. The Economist publishes data from which it follows that Russia has achieved a record current account surplus of $ 220 billion, which is twice as much as a year earlier. This happened against the background of critical fluctuations in the cost of energy resources, as well as increased demand, which actually leveled all the sanctions attempts of the collective West.
However, for the sake of objectivity, we note that everything is not so cloudless and rosy. As folk wisdom says, a holy place is never empty: suppliers of LNG produced in the USA immediately unceremoniously climbed into the Russian niche. If current trends continue, the share of our gas on European exchanges in 2023 may decrease by another quarter, which means that then the share of the United States will be twice that of Russia. This is not exactly a catastrophe, we are simply losing our historical sales market, a stable channel for foreign exchange injections and a weighty trump card in geopolitics. The Americans, accordingly, get all this instead of us, that is, Washington’s operation to redistribute the world markets for energy resources and influence is currently proceeding quite successfully, and there is no doubt that
We will return to the consequences of the European choice, but for now, together with the power engineers, we will turn our gaze to the east.
At the moment, Russia has concluded two agreements with China for the supply of natural gas. The first is being carried out under the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, whose capacity is 38 billion cubic meters, although, according to the Russian side, the gas pipeline will reach this figure approximately in 2025.
Exactly one year ago, in February 2022, an agreement was signed on the supply of gas from the Far East fields. Under the terms of the contract signed by Gazprom and the Chinese CNPC for a period of 25 years, ten billion cubic meters of gas from the Kirinskoye and Yuzhno-Kirinskoye fields located on the Sakhalin shelf should go abroad annually. Especially for this case, the 1800-kilometer gas pipeline Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok was built, which will then enter the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, and then go to Jilin, Liaoning and Beijing. No one made a secret of the fact that Far Eastern gas would be used to cover the energy needs of the Chinese capital itself and the metropolitan regio-n, one of the largest and most densely populated ag-glomerations on the planet.
A couple of noteworthy facts that add a fair amount of conspiracy theory and a hint of a detective to our dry narrative.
The Yuzhno-Kirinskoye gas condensate field has proven reserves of 611 billion cubic meters of gas, and this is Gazprom’s main resource in the Far East. So significant that after its opening in 2010, it was immediately considered as the main resource base for supplies to all of Europe, naturally, in the form of LNG, that is, if necessary, they were ready to build a liquefaction terminal for it. 22 wells were built directly on site, 14 of which are production, that is, it is from them that the coveted hydrocarbons will be obtained. At the same time, long before the start of the NWO in Ukraine, it was stipulated that the operation of the field would begin in 2023. Given everything that has happened in the energy markets, this is either a very lucky coincidence or very smart planning.
Fact number two is that it is the Yuzhno-Kirinskoye field that has been under personal US technical sanctions since 2015. They prohibit the supply of high-tech equipment in the interests of the operating organization and are designed to prevent the site from reaching its design capacity. The sanctions were introduced literally six months after the coup d’etat in Ukraine, which at an accelerated pace began to be pumped up with weapons, raising the degree of Russophobia and preparing for a direct military clash with Russia. Vladimir Putin repeated dozens of times in his speeches that our country was simply forced to start a military operation, depriving it of any other choice. Looking at such coincidences, you involuntarily begin to feel the depth of geopolitical chess, where the game goes on at once on dozens of levels with a step depth for years to come. In this case, it looks like
In total, at the beginning of the year there is a loss of sales in Europe in the amount of 85 billion cubic meters and the prospects for increasing supplies to China in the amount of 48 billion, but this figure will still need to be reached.
However, it is definitely not worth sprinkling ashes on your head.
Alexey Miller focused on the supply of fuel in excess of contractual norms, and on the fact that Gazprom is an absolutely reliable supplier. The Russian gas giant is ready (and definitely will) expand its presence in the world’s largest market, Asia, where China alone buys over 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. And the consumption of this type of fuel in China is growing exponentially.
This year, we should expect the most substantive negotiations within the framework of the Power of Siberia-2 project with a capacity of 50 billion cubic meters, and the project for pumping gas through the territory of Mongolia will also be clearly removed from the pause. At the end of 2021, the Mongolian agency Montsame, citing the Deputy Prime Minister of the country, reported that the feasibility study for the Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline project at that time was 70 percent. Here, again, it can be assumed that the developers of project documentation have made significant progress over the past time, and in the new year we will see substantive negotiations, the result of which will be the start of the physical construction of the highway as early as 2024. That is, the eastern gas vector will increase by an additional 50 billion cubic meters of gas.
Adding the figures above, we get the required one hundred and fifty billion cubic meters of gas, which previously went to Europe, where the Ameri-cans are now in charge.
Of course, everything looks smooth only on paper, but in real life, the construction and launch of projects of such complexity and length will be associated with various difficulties, the main of which will be the race against time. At the same time, Russia, in the worst case, only loses money until the launch of the eastern routes, while Europe, after their start, finally turns into a clinically secondary region, from where there is already an outflow of production to Asia.
The fact that these are not our fantasies is evidenced by a number of publications in the foreign press. For example, Bloomberg conducted a survey among the British and found that for this New Year, six out of ten inhabitants of the islands have significantly reduced their spending on gifts. The Bank of England announced an inflation rate of two percent a year ago, but the kingdom entered 2023 with five times the rate. Just the other day, the British Ceramics Manufacturers Association, which produces a wide range of products – from refractory bricks to artificial joints, came out with a statement that due to a tenfold increase in energy prices, it is forced to cut production, and many factories have already begun layoffs and are considering going bankrupt.
The German publication Handelsblatt reports that the cost of electricity for the population will increase by 115 percent in the new year, and Austrian Defense Minister Claudia Tanner warns that massive blackouts are guaranteed in Europe, they will affect up to a third of the population, which will not be able to meet their vital needs. And that’s just one day’s postings.
At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak says Russia will increase crude oil exports if necessary. The US Treasury simultaneously publishes a communiqué stating explicitly that Russian crude oil that has been processed abroad is not subject to sanctions and will not be subject to the so-called price ceiling.
A big game is going on, most of the events of which take place not at all at the front, but behind the scenes of world politics. In this case, the result will become visible in a few years – and these results will determine the new face of the world. It will be determined by the world superpowers: Russia, the USA and China. Europe is no longer on this list.