Quantcast
Popular

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.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Shutterstock

Soy Meat Is Soy Yesterday: 5 New and Better Options

By Katie O'Reilly

Vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians are no longer satisfied with the soy-reliant faux meat of yesterday. Soybeans are almost always genetically modified, and they also contain phytoestrogens, which may increase the risk of some cancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pexels

Cell Phone Radiation Risks: California Issues Groundbreaking Guidelines

By Olga Naidenko

This week, California officially issued groundbreaking guidelines advising cell phone users to keep phones away from their bodies and limit use when reception is weak. State officials caution that studies link radiation from long-term cell phone use to an increased risk of brain cancer, lower sperm counts and other health problems, and note that children's developing brains could be at greater risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Christy Williams / WWF

Celebrating the Biggest Conservation Wins of 2017

It's been a big year for conservation.

Together we assured the world that the U.S. is still an ally in the fight against climate change through the We Are Still In movement, a coalition of more than 2,500 American leaders outside of the federal government who are still committed to meeting climate goals. WWF's activists met with legislators to voice their support for international conservation funding. And we ensured that Bhutan's vast and wildlife-rich areas remain protected forever through long-term funding.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate

3 Extreme Weather Events in 2016 'Could Not Have Happened' Without Climate Change, Scientists Say

Three of 2016's extreme weather events would have been impossible without human-caused climate change, according to new research.

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published a collection of papers Wednesday focused on examining the effect of climate change on 27 extreme weather events last year. The research found that climate change was a "significant driver" in 21 of these weather disasters, and that three events—the temperatures making 2016 the hottest year on record, the heat wave over Asia in the spring, and a "blob" of extremely warm water in the Pacific—"could not have happened" without climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Alan Schmierer

These Butterflies Have Lawyers

By John R. Platt

Don't mess with Texas butterflies. They have lawyers.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
The price of offshore wind energy has dropped significantly in recent years. Wikimedia Commons

Netherlands Launches Landmark Zero-Subsidy Wind Power Auction

The Netherlands has launched the world's first “zero subsidy" tender on Friday to build 700 megawatts of offshore wind. Shortly after the announcement, the country already found its first bidder.

Zero subsidy tenders have been labeled as a “game-changer" for the sector because it means that potential bidders would rely solely on wholesale electricity prices without financial aid from the government.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
India is betting on a "green future" through clean energy and low carbon innovation. UK Department for International Development / Flickr

World's Largest Solar-Wind-Storage Plant Planned for India

A wind, solar and battery storage plant is being planned for the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has faced power woes in recent months due to grid failure.

The renewable energy facility will consist of 120 megawatts of solar, 40 megawatts of wind, 20-40 megawatt-hours of battery backup and will be spread over 1,000 acres in the district of Anantapur.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

How Cities Can Meat the Climate Challenge

By Kari Hamerschlag and Christopher D. Cook

Addressing a crowd of mayors gathered in his hometown last week, former President Obama called on the "new faces of American leadership" on climate change to take swift action to spare our children and grandchildren from a climate catastrophe. Twenty-five U.S. mayors signed the "Chicago Charter," affirming a commitment from their cities to meet the Paris agreement target for greenhouse gas reductions by 2025.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!