Trump Signs Russia Sanctions Bill. Will It Impact Oil and Gas Development?
By Andy Rowell
As U.S. President Donald Trump reluctantly signs new legislation imposing sweeping new sanctions on Russia, it has been revealed that existing sanctions on the country, designed to prevent frontier oil and gas exploration, are not working.
On Wednesday, Trump was forced to sign a new sanctions bill. As Congress had voted for the bill in such large numbers, the president could not veto it.
Therefore Trump grudgingly signed signed the bi-partisan bill "for the sake of national unity," while attacking it as "seriously flawed" and "unconstitutional."
The president attempted to argue that it violated the Constitution and previous Supreme Court. He said, "The bill remains seriously flawed—particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking."
The president added, "By limiting the Executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together."
In typical Trump fashion, he also bragged, "I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress."
But Trump was not the only one who criticized the legislation, according to the Financial Times. The Russians also attacked Trump as demonstrating "complete impotence, in the most humiliating manner."
The oil and gas industry was not happy, either. The paper noted, "International oil and gas companies have warned that the new sanctions, if signed into law, could cause unintended harm to billions of dollars worth of projects, due to the potentially broad interpretation of some clauses in the bill."
The decision to expand sanctions to cover oil and gas export pipelines could now undermine some $4.75 billion worth of funding for projects, such as Gazprom's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and Chevron's $37 billion expansion of the Tengiz project in Kazakhstan, whose oil flows through Russia to the Black Sea, according to the FT.
But are sanctions really as effective as we think at stopping oil and gas development in Russia?
According to a new Reuters investigation, "A gap in U.S. sanctions allows Western companies to help Russia develop some of its most technically challenging oil reserves."
Back in 2014, when Washington imposed sanctions on Moscow, the U.S. Treasury said it wanted to "impede Russia's ability to develop so-called frontier or unconventional oil resources." But it explicitly mentioned "shale reservoirs," not other forms of unconventional oil and gas.
Therefore, the sanctions are not working, as there is a serious loophole to exploit.
According to Reuters, "Three years on, however, Norway's Statoil is helping Kremlin oil giant Rosneft develop unconventional resources, while British major BP is considering a similar project."
Although Statoil is not officially breaching sanctions, "the cooperation highlights how sanctions have only been partially effective in curbing Western energy investment."
All these companies are not exploring for shale, but the deeper reservoirs that lie beneath shale oil in limestone.
Reuters pointed out that "Geologists are unanimous, though, that even though shale and limestone formations are different geological structures, they both constitute unconventional oil resources. Both are extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking."
In this case, they should be banned.
But once again the oil industry seems to have found enough wriggle room to avoid accountability and culpability and carry on as business as usual.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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