About the Trial Balloon: Caspian Sea Oil Edition

 

A total of 24 key crude and natural gas projects could start operations in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) region by 2025, with Russia and Kazakhstan driving production.

Rosneft is responsible for nine projects of which eight will involve conventional crude. Key projects could contribute 2.1 MMbpd to global crude production in 2025, and 10.4 Bcf/d to gas production.

I have nightmares about the Caspian pipeline expansion.

I have for some time.  I can’t explain why just I came across the aggressive (fixing to be more aggressive) ongoing project doing research on Rio Tinto mining in Australia (tangential maybe, but research is like that).

Anyway, the Caspian thing.

I read Trial Balloon For A Coup – it is billed as a read to keep you up at night.  I didn’t find that to be the case, sadly, just a confirmation of all fears about Trump and Bannon and the consolidation of power.   But it was a stunning read nonetheless so go directly there after you finish this post.

Trial Balloon doesn’t mention the Caspian thing in particular but it does mention oil.

(It is always about oil.)

From the piece:

(6) Finally, I want to highlight a story that many people haven’t noticed. On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money “paying” for it was originally loaned out to the shell layers by VTB (the government’s official bank), even though it’s highly unclear who, if anyone, would be paying that loan back; and the recipients have been traced as far as some Cayman Islands shell companies.

Why is this interesting? Because the much-maligned Steele Dossier (the one with the golden showers in it) included the statement that Putin had offered Trump 19% of Rosneft if he became president and removed sanctions. The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

Conclusive? No. But it raises some very interesting questions for journalists to investigate.

This struck me and my dreams of the Caspian Sea.

In the immediate aftermath of the election last November, I reached out to a politically connected friend about the talk of Russian hacking and influence on our elections but specifically:  oil.

This from that exchange:

ME:  quick question – do you know anyone I could talk to about Kazakhstan, the Caspian Pipeline and Ukraine – in regard to Russia/Trump love affair? I know – weird question but thought you may know!
FRIEND:  Funny you should ask, just had dinner with a [Person In The Know About the Region].
ME:  Here is what I am thinking and tell if you think it is fucking crazy: The Caspian Pipeline – thus far doesn’t run through Ukraine, Kazakhstan has one of the largest oil reserves. Kazakhstan is aligned with Russia – as far as the north of the country goes – but there is trepidation. Obviously our SOS from Exxon (which has worked with Kazakh’s on their oil reserve) with wonderful ties to Russia fits in here nicely. All that said I get this horrible feeling that this is – as with everything – about oil, about annexation of Ukraine — beyond Crimea. That entire region is a fucking tinderbox.
Trump is making a business deal. That is all.

Admittedly my knowledge on the subject is cursory and likely gets many key bits wrong.

But maybe it gets a few things right.

Regarding Rosenft – this from a periodical I frequently read (no) Pipeline & Gas Journal

Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 

A total of 24 key crude and natural gas projects could start operations in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) region by 2025, with Russia and Kazakhstan driving production in the region, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.

Rosneft is responsible for nine projects of which eight will involve conventional crude. Key projects could contribute 2.1 MMbpd to global crude production in 2025, and 10.4 Bcf/d to gas production.

Two projects of particular interest in the region are the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG (TAP) pipeline.

Punj Lloyd, in a 50-50 joint venture with Limak, won the contract to construct a 285-mile segment of the TANAP pipeline in Turkey. Once completed, the pipeline will bring natural gas produced from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz-2 field and other areas of the Caspian Sea primarily to Turkey and onto Europe.

My thoughts on Tillerson (above SOS: Exxon) are probably a red herring – there are no wheels that need greasing by a former oil man when Trump has Putin on the speed-dial/Gmail.

Bannon isn’t a red-herring in the traditional sense but in that he is the master of distraction all good despots need as a one-man NSA. What could be more terrifying than putting a white nationalist, racist, bigoted, wife-beating slob in a General’s seat in the West Wing?

Not much.

Except maybe Trump immediately filed to run for reelection which (if won) would place him nicely for the next phase of those “24 key” projects Russia is hoping to get underway by 2025 (in addition to being able to fundraise continuously).

2025 is soon.  Really, really soon.

What makes this whole thing work spectacularly is that Trump simply doesn’t care about anything but amassing power and money but as with every sad clown, having everything he wants still won’t be enough.  Since Trump honestly doesn’t care Bannon can do what he wants, like introduce new ways to be a holocaust denier for example.

LISTEN:  I do not discount the threat to our democracy  and supposed American values posed by a Bannon/Trump presidency.  Women are under attack.  Women of color especially so.  Brown people – especially those at Standing Rock at the moment – are under attack.  The environment, science, academia, the press – you name it – is under attack.

It is very real.

It is terrifying.

We [The People] have to do everything in our power to keep the Judicial Branch on the White House page and pull extra hard on the arc of history so it doesn’t slip out of our hands and flap wildly into the ether.

But the whole oil/Russia/Steele Dossier thing could be a practical, legal way to rid ourselves of the Trumpian nightmare.  There has to be a thread there yet to be pulled – a tangible piece of irrefutable evidence that forces the legislative branch to act urgently to remove Trump from office and hopefully, charge him with a high crime TBD.  Trump as president is proof that nothing is far-fetched or outside the realm of possibility.

 

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