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Canadian flag waving in front of the Parliament Building on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo credit: Jason Hafso

Canadian ‘solidarity’ means no LNG for EU

Western energy solidarity is running out of steam. Canada is currently offering a chilling example of how Western “partners” should not treat each other.

Published: February 3, 2023, 7:17 am

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    When the EU announced its renunciation of Russian gas supplies in response to the war in Ukraine in spring 2022, all European governments praised the switch to liquefied natural gas – also known as LNG gas – as a great (and much more expensive) alternative.

    The US and Canada, among others, were touted as suppliers who should step in to make up for the sanctioned Russian gas deliveries.

    While the American LNG industry is now benefiting greatly from the loss of Russian competition, Canada is no longer sticking to its earlier aid commitments. The country does not want to build transhipment terminals for shipping LNG gas to Europe – citing concerns about “climate protection”.

    In order to ship LNG to Europe, new LNG terminals would have to be built on Canada’s east coast. But the provinces there are opposed to such a project.

    Canada’s western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan currently supply the Asian market. From there, gas flows through pipelines to the United States and further to eastern Canada. There are no terminals on the east coast for LNG transport to Europe.

    Canadian politicians have now made it absolutely clear that this is to remain the case. In doing so, the country is missing out on a huge opportunity in the midst of the gas crisis, while at the same time letting Europe down.

    The behavior of the province of Québec is exemplary. In the summer of 2021, almost eight months before the Ukraine war broke out, the Quebec government decided to reduce its CO2 emissions by using low-carbon energy sources. It therefore refused approval for the $14 billion Energie Saguenay LNG export project. It should have transported natural gas from western Canada to a liquefaction and export terminal in Saguenay, Quebec. This would have required a new 780-kilometer gas pipeline from northern Ontario.

    Quebec Premier Francois Legault initially supported the project but later changed his mind. One reason for this was local opposition, including a politically active and vocal group of environmentalists. Even the Ukraine war did not change the situation. What’s more, Québec has now started to ban all oil and gas production. This happened seven weeks after the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

    Canada took part in a March 24 meeting with the International Energy Agency last year and made an explicit promise there that it would help Europe to replace Russian supplies of coal, oil and natural gas.

    Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, said Canada has the capacity to increase its oil and gas exports by up to 300 000 barrels per day by 2022 to improve global energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, “Canada is exploring options to replace Russian gas with LNG from Canada, following requests from European countries”.

    It turned out to be just empty promises as Canada’s “solidarity” with its European partners is non-existent.

    Blackouts in northern Germany

    Energy experts have long warned the German government about power outages if they pursue their current political course.  Now the long-feared emergency struck, initially “only” in the Harz, highland area in northern Germany. The first major blackout occurred there in the night from Sunday to Monday – the power was off for several hours. The power went out for four hours in Halberstadt and Blankenburg (Saxony-Anhalt). Tens of thousands of households sat in the dark, while hospitals had to switch to emergency power.

    The first fluctuations in the power grid were already evident early on Sunday evening. The official reason given was some isolated iced and then torn power lines. From 10 pm the electricity in the Harz district was largely gone. The cell phone network was also down. The fire brigade had to man the equipment sheds in order to set off an alarm by radio in an emergency.

    At the same time, the hospital in Halberstadt prepared for emergencies: “Our emergency power generator switched on immediately, and all critical areas could be supplied.” MRI and CT were shut down to save electricity.

    At 10:38 pm, the state government in Magdeburg sent an official hazard notification to all cell phones: “Help the elderly, stock up on drinking water, prepare for an evacuation.” Another message followed at 0:27 am: “It is not foreseeable when a reconnection can be expected.”

    The fire brigade began to move the first seriously ill people to ensure the continuity of artificial respiration.

    The electricity only came back on at 2 am, four hours after the first outage. The danger report was canceled after another hour and a half – but in the morning thousands of households were suddenly without electricity again. The supply was not restored until 12:30 pm.

    There was no reason to rejoice however, because on Tuesday the local network operator Avacon felt compelled to announce on its website that further disruptions could not be ruled out.

    Big oil are the big winners

    US oil producers “have raked in more than $200bn in profits” due to Western sanctions which sent global energy prices soaring.

    China has meanwhile positioned itself in the Ukraine conflict with unusual clarity. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning on Monday openly named the United States as the culprit in the war in Ukraine: “The United States are the ones who triggered the Ukraine crisis.” The United States was also “the biggest factor fueling the crisis”.

    And another reproach leveled at Washington was that by supplying Ukraine with heavy and offensive weapons, the US was prolonging and intensifying the conflict.

    Mao Ning made the allegations in response to a question about American allegations that Chinese companies might be supporting the Russian side. The spokeswoman spoke of “unfounded suspicions” and “baseless blackmail”.


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