Stories by Anna Mikulska

Expert Voices

EU energy proposal could disrupt Russian pipeline construction

Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline are ready for collection at the port.
Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in Germany. Photo: Danny Gohlke/picture alliance via Getty Images

In a surprising move after months of inaction, the EU tentatively approved a compromise version of the European Commission (EC) proposal to extend provisions of a legislative framework for the EU's gas and electricity market to pipelines to and from non-EU countries.

Why it matters: Under the framework, called the Third Energy Package (TEP), energy generation and supply need to be separate from transmission networks. If the compromise secures final approval, that stipulation could affect the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) offshore pipeline currently under construction, as it's owned and operated entirely by Russia's state-owned Gazprom.

Expert Voices

French protests a canary in the coal mine for climate-change policies

Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) protestors shout slogans as material burns during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs near the Arc of Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris
Yellow Vest (Gilets Jaunes) protesting rising oil prices and living costs, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Nov. 24. Photo: Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After three weeks of demonstrations against an increase in gasoline taxes, French President Emmanuel Macron yielded to the Yellow Vest protesters by suspending the hikes for six months.

The big picture: The wealthy countries pushing to address climate change have been seen as best equipped to bear the costs of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables, hence their commitment in the Paris Accord to channel energy transition funding to the developing world. But the French protests and Macron’s response suggest that even developed societies may meet resistance from their more disadvantaged members, who may not be so willing to make sacrifices to their way of life.

Expert Voices

As U.S. influence on global oil prices wanes, Russia stands to benefit

An OPEC meeting in St Petersburg, Russia in 2017
An OPEC meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, in July 2017. Photo: Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images

Between early August and early October, crude oil prices shot up by approximately $20 per barrel in anticipation of the Trump administration's Nov. 5 re-imposition of oil export sanctions on Iran. But in the first week of October, amid speculation of a $100-per-barrel market, crude prices suddenly reversed course.

Between the lines: The reversal illuminates the influence of geopolitics on the crude market, including the shifting role of Saudi Arabia as a major balancing force. Saudi Arabia ultimately bowed to U.S. pressure, but its hesitation speaks to an erosion of the U.S.–OPEC relationship as Russia’s influence has grown.

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