EU adopts new Russia sanctions on oil; Russia-China gas alliance; Nevada's clean-energy gold (+video)

Th EU adopted new Russia sanctions on energy as an uneasy ceasefire continued in Ukraine; Russia and China broke ground last week on a massive gas pipeline that offers an alternative for Russia amid the Ukraine crisis; Nevada struck clean-energy gold by landing the Tesla Motors gigafactory. Catch up on the latest in global energy with Recharge.  

[Editor's note: This piece has been updated Monday afternoon to include the most recent reports that the EU has adopted new Russia sanctions, but delayed enforcement of the new sanctions. For more, read Monday's statement from President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy.]

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War and peaceAs an uneasy ceasefire took hold in eastern Ukraine late Friday, the EU planned new Russia sanctions on defense and energy. The Ukraine crisis is giving NATO renewed sense of purpose, with the US pledging a stronger military presence in Eastern Europe. But with the Baltics relying almost exclusively on Russia for natural gas, they're looking for more than just arms from their friends across the Atlantic.

Power Siberia: Meanwhile, Russia aims to slip out the back door. Early in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the groundbreaking of a pipeline to ship $400 billion worth of Russian gas to China – one answer to the Ukraine crisis and Moscow's European troubles. Mr. Putin has even offered China a stake in a major Siberian oil and gas play, suggesting Russia's energy giants are on the lookout for fresh capital, having felt the sting of Western sanctions.

RenoNevada's victory in the bid for Tesla Motors's gigafactory is the clean-energy equivalent of a major oil discovery. If all goes according to plan, the gargantuan, carbon-free battery factory will dramatically scale up energy storage production and pave the way for a mass-market, long-range electric car. Doubts linger over Tesla's preferred technology, but ultimately "the holdup in batteries is not the scientists, it’s the engineers, the manufacturing.”

In the pipeline

  • Monday, Sept. 8: WASHINGTON – Congress returns from recess, and House leaders hope to quickly extend the charter for the Export-Import Bank, which funds energy projects like power plants in the developing world. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) has promised to pass 13 energy bills, aimed at lowering energy prices by expanding offshore drilling and approving Keystone XL.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 9 to Wednesday, Sept. 10: PAHPOS, CYPRUS – Officials convene for the East Mediterranean Gas Conference. The equivalent of Europe's energy needs for the next 30 years lies in the form of hydrocarbons under the east Mediterranean Sea. With Russian supply risk at a new high, the Levantine Basin is more closely watched than ever.
  • Thursday, Sept. 11: NEW YORK and THE INTERNET – Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy hosts the China 2020 Forum. Last year, the world's biggest carbon emitter installed more solar than any country ever has in a year, but China is a far way off from meeting its lofty energy and climate goals.

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Drill deeper

Israel is once again using gas to mend its neighborly relations [Quartz]
Israel plans to sell roughly $15 billion in natural gas to Jordan over the next 15 years, yet another deal aimed at soothing tensions in a region upended by worsening Israeli-Palestinian relations. "Enrgy can serve as tool for cooperation in #EastMed," tweeted Amos Hochstein, the US international coordinator for energy.

In Myanmar, China's Scramble for Energy Threatens Livelihoods of Villagers [National Geographic]
"There are a lot of resources in Rakhine State," says Nyint Shwe, a one-man oil drilling team in western Myanmar. "We want to own those resources."

Water's edge: The crisis of rising sea levels [Reuters]
Globally, tidal waters have risen 8 inches (or 20 cm) over the past century, as a result of glacial melt and rising temperatures. That threatens US energy infrastructure, with nearly 300 energy facilities situated within 4 feet of sea level.

Energy sources

  • WRI: "38 percent of the world’s shale resources face high to extremely high water stress or arid conditions."
  • US District Judge Carl Barbier: ""[T]he Court finds that BP’s conduct was 'reckless' under general maritime law and a substantial cause of the blowout, explosion, and oil spill. ""
  • Australia National Electricity Market via Sydney Morning Herald: "Carbon emissions from [Australia's] main electricity grid have risen since the end of the carbon tax by the largest amount in nearly eight years."


From Ukraine gas wars to solar innovation to climate change, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each weekend. Subscribe for free. 

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