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Black sea: a new frontier for energy geopolitics
Material posted: Publication date: 12-10-2014

Black and Azov sea does not have huge stocks of oil and gas, but nonetheless may be attractive to some investors and oil companies. But the growing influence of Russia in the Black sea leaving little room for the plans of Western companies, and the risks of conflict in Ukraine remain too high.

For example, Halliburton is interested in developing fields offshore Romania, but it is unlikely in the near future, these plans will be implemented.

The presence of Armed forces of Russia in the Crimean Peninsula has not previously been considered by Western investors as a risk. But now, given the sanctions against Russia, geopolitical risks will likely destroy investment interest. Russia itself plays a key role in the allocation of resources in the Black and Azov seas. Also do not forget about the Turkish influence on the "South stream".

Traditionally, marine boundaries are set by bilateral agreements based on the UN Convention on the law of the sea.

They are installed or on the principle of equidistance, or relative distribution, based on the length of the coastline.

Despite the fact that the Crimea became part of Russia, the international court of justice, which is the intermediary when solving coastal issues, considers the Peninsula part of Ukraine.

"South stream" and the sea border

Russia can demand the redistribution of Maritime boundaries, including the boundaries of countries involved in South stream. Previously, in order to avoid routing the pipeline through the sea Ukraine, South stream was sent through Turkish waters.

But, given the threat posed by the European project "southern corridor" that Russia is not to happy with the situation.

If now the tubing will be placed through the Crimean waters, this will not only reduce costs by reducing time and distance, but it will also reduce the excessive influence of Turkey on any plans to expand the project.

It is possible that the current draft will not change to ensure delivery and to Turkey, but future projects will likely pass through Russian waters.

"South stream" - global infrastructure project on construction of the gas pipeline capacity of 63 billion cubic meters from Russia by the Ukraine via the Black sea to southern and Central Europe to diversify export routes for natural gas and exceptions transit risks.

At the end of 2015 South stream will deliver gas. At full capacity, the pipeline will be released in 2018 From 2015, South stream will supply gas to Europe by reducing the volume of flow through Ukraine up to 30 billion cubic meters.

Shelf of Ukraine and Romania

The oil and gas reserves on the continental shelf between Ukraine and Romania were the main argument for early settlement of the longstanding border dispute. While these resources are insignificant compared to Russian offshore reserves, they should play an important role for Ukraine and still are a priority for energy independence of Romania.

In developing these deposits Romania will be able to replace all Russian gas in the country, and it is about 25% of total gas consumption. Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that energy security is the key to economic goals of the country, which include a marked increase in military expenditure, to ensure compliance with economic interests in the context of improving the investment climate.

Halliburton, working with OMV Petrom in Romania, recently expressed interest in the development of a Romanian offshore fields.

Before making Crimea part of Russia Ukraine could reduce imports by almost a third from the resources in the Black and Azov seas, but the distribution of borders between Russia and Ukraine is likely to be in favor of Russia.

While security risks due to the continuing armed conflict in Ukraine destroying almost the entire remaining investment potential of the Ukrainian shelf.

The system of gas pipelines from Russia to Europe passes through many countries, but they all have a fairly high dependence on Russian gas supplies, while also providing a fairly strong Russian influence in the region.

With regard to Romania and Ukraine, the increase in domestic production could affect spot prices because of the oversupply, but their failure in this regard will mean higher prices, because the public oppose the development of shale deposits.


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