Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα security. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα security. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 08, 2015

EU leaders assess security following Paris attack

In the wake of the massacre Wednesday in Paris, European security officials are re-visiting their plans for countering what they see as a growing jihadist threat and what to do with young disaffected Muslim men either returning from combat in the Middle East or radicalized  via the Internet by militant groups fighting there.

They warn though there is no such thing as absolute security.

While a massive manhunt continued for the two suspects – French-born Algerians Chérif and Saïd Kouachi – broader questions are being raised already over how the attack could have happened despite a robust intelligence and surveillance system in France.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls told reporters Wednesday in the French capital that even with good intelligence services there is a “no zero risk.”  He also emphasized that several terror plots had been thwarted in recent months.

What is alarming, though, to security officials and analysts is how the Kouachi brothers managed to secure the automatic weapons, and possibly a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and plot the assault without triggering preventive action by French authorities.

Both suspects had well-known militant histories stretching back to at least 2005. Chérif was convicted in 2008 in a case connected to jihadist recruitment of fighters against Americans in Iraq, serving 18 months of a three-year prison sentence. And in 2010, he was arrested again – although not charged – for alleged involvement in a failed plot to help an Algerian Islamic militant escape from a French jail, according Le Monde newspaper.

Analysts are asking, if French intelligence can’t stop known militants from launching murderous attacks, how can authorities hope to counter threats from those who are not known yet?

According to Claude Moniquet, director of the European Strategic and Intelligence Center, a Brussels think tank, an urgent task will be to establish whether the assailants, who were skilled with their weapons and tactics, had gained training and combat experience overseas. “I suspect they had training elsewhere, but an investigation will have to establish these details,” he said.

If it emerges the pair did travel to the Mideast, alarm bells will ring even louder.

An estimated 1,000 French militants have either left to fight for jihadist groups in Syria or already returned. At least 3,000 Europeans are believed to have volunteered to fight with Islamic militant groups in Syria.

In the summer European security ministers adopted an action plan to tackle the security threat they believe these fighters pose to their home countries.

Some of the measures are not known but those that are aim at identifying militants already in Syria and those likely to enlist. The plan included greater intelligence-sharing procedures among European Union countries, according to the bloc’s counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

At a press conference to announce the action plan he said that not all of the returnees “intend to carry out attacks, but some of them will.”

In November, EU security ministers met again to discuss tightening security checks on their borders and the sharing of passenger records. But European right-to-privacy rules and European Parliament objections are delaying some of the surveillance measures the ministers are keen to implement. Security officials say they need quickly to require all airlines to include passenger data in a digital system, allowing European intelligence agencies to know the name of every person who enters, leaves or crosses the EU.

The European Commission will submit new proposals to fight terrorism in the next few weeks, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday. “I know from experience that one should not react on the moment to such events given the risk of doing either too much or too little,” he said. But he noted further measures were needed.

EU states have been toughening their own national anti-terror laws. In a bid to curb the flow of French militants to Syria, the French government introduced legislation a few months ago making it easier to detain suspects at airports and to confiscate their passports.

European governments have increased their intelligence endeavors by working with Muslim communities and mosque leaders to discourage recruits from heading out and by monitoring social media sites in an effort to identify those who have gone to join militant fighters in the Middle East.

Last year, the then counterterrorism chief of London’s Metropolitan Police appealed to Muslims across the UK to help stanch the flow of young Britons heading to Syria. At least 500 British Muslims are thought to have gone to Syria. Commander Richard Walton admitted that authorities are “desperate” to obtain further assistance.

Britain’s interior minister Theresa May Thursday chaired an emergency meeting of the British government’s COBRA security committee to review what had happened in France and to decide whether there needed to be any changes in UK security plans. The panel ordered a ramping up of border security. “Following the attacks we took the precautionary step of increasing security at the French-UK border,” she told reporters in London.

And British politicians appealed for Muslim communities to be more vigilant for jihadist outliers. But critics warn there are risks in targeting local Muslim communities and making them feel under pressure to collaborate with authorities. The effort can come off as discrimination, further alienating young and disaffected Muslims and presenting recruitment opportunities for militants.

In the UK, police have been aggressively using counter-terrorism legislation to detain and question anyone, even without reasonable cause for suspicion. More than 60,000 people were detained for up to nine hours in 2012 and 2013 but all those stops and interrogations resulted in just 24 terrorism-related arrests.

Asim Qureshi, research director of CagePrisoners, a civil libertarian campaigning group, says the approach is too intrusive. He told the Al Jazeera news network, “For example, they get asked, ‘what type of Muslim are you? What are your foreign policy opinions? What are your views on Palestine?’ None of those questions pertain to whether that person poses a credible risk to UK security.”

European leaders and their advisers have also been delving into the question of what to do with fighters who have returned from the Middle East. Should they be arrested and prosecuted for fighting in a foreign war, if there are laws available to do so? Is it better to monitor returnees, rather than risk further radicalization in jail? Should returnees be required to go through de-radicalization programs? None of the individual states of the bloc have found answers to those questions, so an EU consensus remains far off.
Source: VOANews.com - sofiaglobe.com


Παρασκευή, Δεκεμβρίου 05, 2014

Fresh lawsuit filed against planned restart of nuclear reactors in Japan

Nine residents filed for an injunction order on Friday to suspend the planned restart of four nuclear reactors in western Japan, local media reported.

The nine people, who are from Fukui, Kyoto and Osaka prefectures, claimed that there is an "actual and looming risk" of nuclear accidents, and requested the Fukui District Court to call off the planned restart of four reactors at Takahama and Oi nuclear plants.

Takahama and Oi nuclear plants are both located in Fukui Prefecture. Both plants' No. 3 and No. 4 reactors are currently undergoing safety screening of the Nuclear Regulation Authority for resuming operation.

The Fukui District Court ruled in May that the Oi nuclear plant shall not be restarted. But another district court made a contradictory ruling last month, rejecting a demand by citizens seeking suspension of possible resumption of Takahama and Oi plants.

Currently, all nuclear reactors in Japan remain offline. Power utilities are desperate to bring nuclear plants back online due to high costs of thermal power generation, while public concerns over nuclear safety are still strong.

 Source: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn


Πέμπτη, Νοεμβρίου 27, 2014

Japanese court rejects citizens' demand for suspension of nuclear reactor restart

A Japanese court on Thursday rejected a demand by some western Japan residents seeking suspension of planned restart of nuclear reactors at Takahama and Oi plants, local media reported.

The residents, from Shiga Prefecture, claimed that there are many geological faults around the two plants which might cause earthquakes and tsunamis, and that severe nuclear accidents might occur such as in the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

The Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture rejected the residents' demand for suspension of restart of the reactors, and said it is "unlikely" that the safety regulator will make a hasty decision to allow the reactors to restart.

Takahama and Oi nuclear plants are both located in Fukui Prefecture, which lies to the north of Shiga Prefecture. Both plants' No. 3 and No. 4 reactors are currently undergoing safety screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for resuming operation.

Kansai Electric Power Co., operator of the two plants, said the court decision is "reasonable" and it will seek to restart the nuclear plants "as soon as possible" after safety confirmed by the regulator.

  • Currently, all nuclear reactors in Japan remain offline. Power utilities are desperate to bring nuclear plants back online as their earnings are deteriorating due to high costs for thermal power generation, while public concerns over nuclear safety are still strong.
Judicial rulings on the nuclear plants' operation have been divided since the Fukushima crisis. In May, another district court in Japan ruled that the Oi nuclear plant shall not be restarted. Kansai Electric has appealed this ruling.
 Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Δευτέρα, Οκτωβρίου 27, 2014

Lithuania Hopes for Energy Independence, Security With New LNG Terminal

Lithuania's liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal "Independence" is a geopolitical project that will lead to energy independence and security of the whole Baltic region, Lithuania's president said at the official ceremony of welcoming the off-shore liquefied natural gas vessel Independence in the port of Klaipeda.

"Klaipeda's LNG terminal will cover almost 90 percent of gas needs of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia," Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania's president, said at the ceremony.

"Lithuania has managed to build the terminal alone. It took just three and a half years to implement the project. We have become a secure state in what concerns energy. It [the terminal] will become a guarantor of energy security for the whole Baltic region. We will always be able to help our neighbors in case they need it," the president said, adding that Lithuania will no longer be dependent on the "imposed gas prices".

Independence storage-vessel for the LNG terminal has the capacity of 170,000 cubic meters (approximately 6 billion cubic feet), and is leased by the state-owned energy terminal operator Klaipedos Nafta AB from Norway's Hoegh LNG Holdings liquefied natural gas services provider for the period of 10 years. Lithuania also has a contract with Norway's oil and gas company Statoil ASA to supply the terminal with LNG for five years at the prices comparable to Russian energy giant Gazprom's export to the country after this year's price reduction, according to Lithuania's Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis.

The first delivery of LNG is scheduled for Tuesday.

(RIA Novosti)

Τρίτη, Οκτωβρίου 07, 2014

Benefits of investing in protection of biodiversity outweigh financial costs, says UN-backed report

UN, 7 October 2014 – Implementing measures that promote the sustainable use of biodiversity is a worthwhile investment that will bring multiple economic and environmental benefits to countries, according to a United Nations-backed report released today.
The report, released at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-12) in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, found that there is a gap across all countries and regions between investments needed to meet the 20 global biodiversity goals known as the Aichi targets, and the resources currently allocated to this endeavour.

“Even though political commitment is there, we don’t have a good financial investment plan behind it,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Chair of the High-Level Panel on Global Assessment of Resources for Implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which authored the report.
“The report will help parties understand how we can develop these financial investment plans.”

The report also highlights benefits in areas such as health and well-being and food security that would benefit from higher investments in biodiversity initiatives. 

Mr. Rodriguez, who is also the Vice President for conservation policy at Conservation International, stressed that countries should not simply think of higher expenditures, but they need to look for innovative ways in which development investments also take into account biodiversity.

“Political coherence is urgently needed at the country level,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “If we see how governments behave it’s quite contradictory. On the one hand, we see agencies promoting development with a high environmental cost, and on the other hand we see environmental agencies trying to repair the damage that development agencies have created. We need governments who are able to break down this kind of silo effect.”
Recommendations in the report include diversifying sources of finance for biodiversity; investing in protecting marine and land ecosystems with the view that this will tackle not just biodiversity issues but also wider development issues such as climate change; and strengthening dialogue between governments, the private sector and civil society on biodiversity initiatives.

“We hope that this report will allow parties to move forward actions at the national level as well as the Convention level that are consistent with the political commitment of the Aichi targets,” Mr. Rodriquez added.

Δευτέρα, Σεπτεμβρίου 29, 2014

US-led airstrikes fail to deter ISIS advance

US-led coalition air raids targeted areas in Syria controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group Monday, but the group continue to advance on the strategic town of Kobani.

Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the Islamic State extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign expands upon the airstrikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition forces hit IS group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, facilities overnight in Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassakeh and Deir el-Zour provinces. It said there were casualties, including civilians, but did not have exact figures.

Meanwhile, IS group fighters closed in Monday to within only a few kilometres of a key Kurdish town on Syria’s border with Turkey, despite continued airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

The jihadists managed to advance within five kilometres (three miles) of the strategic Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to the Kurds, the Observatory said.

The Britain-based monitoring group said it was the closest IS group militants had come to the town since they began advancing toward it nearly two weeks ago.

The jihadists fired at least 15 rockets at the town centre, killing at least one person, as they advanced, the Observatory said, adding that other rockets hit the Syrian-Turkish border.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s government said it would ask parliament to debate joining the coalition against the jihadists operating on the country’s doorstep from as early as Thursday.

Civilian casualties

One of the coalition strikes hit a grain silo in the extremist-held town of Manbij in Aleppo province, setting it ablaze. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said the strike on the grain silo killed civilians, but he didn’t have an exact number.

“They killed only civilians there, workers at the site. There was no ISIS inside,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group. The airstrikes “destroyed the food that was stored there.”

US military says it targeted IS vehicles adjacent to grain storage facility in Syria and that there was no evidence of civilian casualties.

Strikes touch Turkish border, Syria’s largest gas plant

In Deir el-Zour province, a strike overnight attributed to the coalition hit the entrance to the Conoco gas plant, Syria’s largest, according to the Observatory, although the facility itself was not damaged.

More raids Monday morning struck the town of Tel Abyad on the Syria-Turkey border, according to a resident on the Turkish side on the frontier.

Mehmet Ozer told The Associated Press by telephone that the raids had hit an abandoned military base and an empty school, sending pillars of smoke and dust into the air. He said Islamic State fighters cleared out of the military base about three or four months ago.

“They (the coalition) must not have fresh intelligence,” Ozer said.

Two shells from the fighting on the Syrian side of the border landed on Turkish soil in the town of Suruc, an AP journalist on the frontier said. Turkey’s military moved tanks away from the army post in the area, positioning them instead on a hill overlooking the border.

IS attacks continue despite mobilised international community

The IS group has seized control of a huge chunk of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, and has declared the establishment of a self-styled caliphate ruled by its strict interpretation of Shariah law.

Its brutal tactics, which include mass killings and beheadings, have helped galvanize the international community to react with military intervention.

The US-led campaign aims to roll back the extremists’ gains in Syria and Iraq, and ultimately to destroy the group.

The coalition includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan. Several European countries also are contributing to US efforts to strike the IS in Iraq, including France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Britain.

However, despite the international efforts, Islamic State fighters have pressed ahead with their offensive against Syria’s Kurds in the city of Ayn Arab, also known as Kobani, on the Turkish border.

Ismet Sheikh Hassan, a senior official in the Kobani region for the Kurdish militia, said the extremists fired rockets and tank shells at the city from the southeast, while some 1,000 militants amassed to the west. He said a 50-year-old woman was killed by the shelling.

More than 100,000 people have fled across the border to Turkey to escape the onslaught, while the US-led coalition on Saturday targeted the attacking Islamic State fighters for the first time to try to stem their advance.

Civilian casualties in airstrikes

The purported civilian casualties in Manbij would add to the 19 civilians that the Observatory says have already been killed in the coalition airstrikes. The Observatory gathers its information from a network of activists across Syria.

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch said that it had confirmed the deaths of at least seven civilians- two women and five children from apparent US missile strikes on Sept. 23 in the village of Kafr Derian in Idlib province. The New York-based group said two men were also killed in the strikes, but that they may have been militants.

It based its conclusions on conversations with three local residents.

“The United States and its allies in Syria should be taking all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The US government should investigate possible unlawful strikes that killed civilians, publicly report on them, and commit to appropriate redress measures in case of wrongdoing.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)



Πέμπτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 25, 2014

Oettinger on energy security: “Gas can be used as a weapon and no longer be delivered" (EP -25.09.14)

Europe should ensure people and companies enjoy a secure supply of energy and this includes measures based on solidarity, said energy commissioner Günther Oettinger addressing the EP's energy committee on 24 September. In his last appearance as energy commissioner at the Parliament, Oettinger looked back at his tenure over the last five years and discussed future challenges regarding the EU's energy policy, including the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Committee chair Jerzy Buzek, a Polish member of the EPP group, referred to the situation in Ukraine in his welcome statement: “The crisis in Ukraine reminds us that energy security of the EU does not end at the EU borders. It is a pan-European challenge.”

  • In his opening speech, Mr Oettinger said that in the field of energy, many people think that relations with Russia are more important that relations with Ukraine, but "we have to overcome this". He added: “Gas can be used as a weapon and no longer  be delivered. This is not yet the case, but we believe that Russia will do whatever they can to undermine Ukraine.” Oettinger said: “Perhaps Ukraine could purchase gas from Russia with co-finance from the EU in order to store more gas.”

The commissioner also pleaded for more collaboration on energy. The EU already has a legal basis to work on energy issues, but "we now have 28 fragmented systems", he said. Several MEPs shared his view that more should be done to combat this fragmentation and to link the energy sectors of countries within the EU.


Martina Werner, a German member of the S&D group, said: “He has partly applied climate goals, but not fully. I’m especially critical of the directive on energy efficiency. We, the Socialists and Democrats, had hoped for much more.”

Dawid Bohdan Jackiewicz, a Polish member of the ECR group, asked whether new energy efficiency targets would hurt member states’ competitiveness and wondered how they would affect energy prices.


Τρίτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 23, 2014

Obama vows more strikes on ISIL in Syria. (the US is not fighting alone)

US President Barack Obama has said that the participation of five Arab nations in Syria airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters "makes it clear to the world this is not America's fight alone".
In a short statement on Tuesday, hours after the first US-led airstrikes hit the group's headquarters in eastern Syria, Obama vowed to continue the fight, which he said was vital to the security of the United States, the Middle East and the world.

"Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people," Obama said on Tuesday before leaving the White House for the United Nations in New York.
He said the joint fight against ISIL would take time, pledging to build more international support for the effort.
He added that the US was proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in conducting the strikes.

'Lengthy campaign'
The US-led military coalition launched the airstrikes early on Tuesday, pounding strongholds of the ISIL fighters across northern and eastern Syria.
The opening salvo hit in what Obama warned to be a lengthy campaign aiming to defeat the group who have seized control of a huge swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border.
The air campaign expanded to also hit al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, known as the al-Nusra Front, which has fought against ISIL. Washington considers it a terror group threatening the US.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said Washington told Damascus' envoy to the United Nations of the impending raids shortly before they began. It also said US Secretary of State John Kerry passed a message through Iraq's foreign minister to Syria's top diplomat to inform Damascus of the plans.
John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, said on Tuesday that more than 160 munitions were fired on ISIL targets in Syria. He said that the US had no indication so far that any civilians were killed during the strikes, adding that assessments were under way.

Strikes on training compounds
The US and five Arab countries began their airstrikes on the group's targets in Syria around 3 am on Tuesday Syrian time. 
Bahrain and the UAE confirmed the Gulf role, saying their air forces struck "terrorist sites and positions."
A Jordanian government spokesman also confirmed his country's air forces took part, accusing the ISIL of trying to infiltrate its borders.
"We will not hesitate to take further actions to target and kill terrorists who are trying to attack our country," said Mohammad al-Momani, a government spokesman.
The strikes hit the group's training compounds and command centers, storage facilities and vehicles in its de facto capital Raqqa, in northeastern Syria, and the surrounding province as well as the stretch of territory controlled by the group in eastern Syria leading to the Iraqi border, including the areas of Deir el-Zour, Abu Kamal and Hasaka, according to US officials.

'Silently slaughtered'
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 70 ISIL fighters were killed and more than 300 wounded in Raqqa and the east. The Observatory has a network of activists around the country.
Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Observatory, said about 22 airstrikes hit Raqqa province in addition to 30 in Deir el-Zour province.
Among the targets was a military air base captured by the extremists in the town of Tabqa and the town of Tel Abyad on the border with Turkey, the Observatory and another media collective reported.
The collective, entitled "Raqqa is being silently slaughtered," said the strikes also hit the governorate headquarters in Raqqa and the Brigade 93 Syrian army base, both controlled by the Islamic State group.
Further west, the strikes hit the village of Kfar Derian, a al-Nusra Front stronghold.
Around a dozen al-Nusra Front fighters were killed as well as 10 civilians, according to two activists based in nearby Aleppo, Mohammed al-Dughaim and Abu Raed. One of the group's best snipers, known as Abu Youssef al-Turki, was among those killed, al-Dughaim said.
An amateur video posted online on Tuesday shows explosions said to be from airstrikes going off at night in an open area near Kfar Derian. Another video taken in daylight shows locals standing on a massive, dusty pile of shattered concrete blocks and twisted rebar. Some villagers can be seen standing on a rooftop next door gazing at the wreckage.

Παρασκευή, Σεπτεμβρίου 19, 2014

Ukraine: UN political chief says adverse security conditions hampering full access to crash site

 UN, 19 September 2014 – Two months after the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine that killed 298 people on board, the top United Nations political official updated the Security Council on developments related to the investigation of the incident.

“While the cease-fire in south-eastern Ukraine, thus far, is holding, contributing to a marked de-escalation on the ground, the conditions are still not conducive for investigators to have full and unfettered access to the site,” said Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

On 17 July, the Boeing 777 carrying 298 people was en route from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, when it went down in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. In the days that followed, the Security Council adopted resolution 2166 (2014) calling for a full, thorough and independent investigation into the incident.

Today Mr. Feltman briefed the Council on a report released on 9 September by the Dutch Safety Board, which submitted its preliminary findings on the MH-17 accident investigation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The report contains the first factual findings based on various sources, including the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, air traffic control data, as well as radar and satellite images.

While last week’s Dutch report is preliminary, it does assert that MH17 broke apart over Ukraine due to penetration by a large number of “high energy objects from outside of the aircraft,” said Mr. Feltman.

The report also notes that the aircraft was in “airworthy condition” with no indication that it had any technical or operational issues. The crew was properly licensed and no human error had been reported. The report confirms no distress messages had been received prior to the crash.

Mr. Feltman told the Council that the process of identifying further remains is still ongoing. Thus far, 225 bodies have been identified. This is when unobstructed access to the crash site is critical.

  • “Winter will soon arrive in Ukraine, at which time it will become almost impossible to retrieve further remains and to collect further evidence,” explained Mr. Feltman.

“We understand that international investigators will again endeavour to access the crash site, both for repatriation of any further remains and to continue gathering physical evidence toward the completion of the technical report,” he added.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to reiterate his call on all those with influence on the situation to exert it immediately to create a “promising security environment” for investigators, he said.

Mr. Feltman commended the Netherlands for playing played a pivotal role in leading the investigation. In addition, Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as ICAO and the European Aviation Agency, have also helped the investigation.

He said that ICAO will continue to provide its full support to the Netherlands, in conjunction with its international team, while we await the conclusions and recommendations eventually will be contained in the Final Report.

On 29 July, ICAO convened a special Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones (TF RCZ), which has met twice to-date. The TF RCZ will meet again in December for a next round of talks and will also convene another high-level safety conference with all its 191 member states in February 2015.

“Let us honour the victims and console their families by never letting it happen again,” said Mr. Feltman. 


Politically motivated sanctions may jeopardize global energy security. (Russian Energy Minister)

Politically-motivated sanctions may adversely impact global energy security, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.

He said that no one had bothered to reckon possible impacts of the anti-Russian sanctions on the global energy sector. “In Russia, we try to analyze this situation but as concerns the global situation, as has been noted here by many, it would be better not to tamper with the energy sector, since the balance of energy security is a very delicate balance,” Novak said at the international investment forum in Sochi.

“No one has considered possible consequences,” he said. “We are discussing these issues with CEOs of biggest companies operating in Russia, such as Shell and Total, and neither of them seems to understand how these companies should work in conditions of sanctions. And what will become with contracts signed earlier, what will become with their shares in projects, how they are to withdraw from the project if it comes to that? No one fully understands such things.”

Earlier on Friday, Novak said that France’s Total said it would continue its projects in Russia that had been launched before the sanctions. Total is a partner of Russia’s LUKoil, Novatek and Gazprom in Russian projects.


  • Miller: Gazprom Maintains Steady Daily Supply of Gas to Europe

    •  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday Russia will certainly fulfill all obligations on gas supplies to Europe and Asia.

    “All obligations - European and Asian - will be fulfilled. There should be no doubts here,” Medvedev said in an interview with ITAR-TASS.
    He called “the European direction [of gas supplies] very important” for Russia.

Τετάρτη, Σεπτεμβρίου 17, 2014

Miller: Gazprom Maintains Steady Daily Supply of Gas to Europe

MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom maintains stable daily deliveries of natural gas to European customers in line with contractual obligations, the company's CEO Alexei Miller said Wednesday.

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Miller said that claims of some of the Western customers of periodical reductions in supplies could be referred only to additional volumes.

Miller also said that Gazprom would be able to satisfy the growing demand for Russian gas on Chinese and Asia-Pacific markets without hurting contractual deliveries to Europe.

"We are ready to satisfy the growing demand in Chinese direction, in eastern direction and in the European Union," Miller said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan wrote a letter to the European Commission, saying that the country's energy security was threatened by the alleged reduction in Russian gas supplies to Slovakia, which launched reversed deliveries to Ukraine earlier this month.

On September 11, Slovakia's electricity and gas supplier SPP claimed it was receiving only 90 percent of Russian gas transited through the Ukrainian territory. On the same day, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the company had not reduced gas deliveries to Slovakia, maintaining the supply at the regular level of 12 million cubic meters per day.

  • Poland's state-controlled oil and gas company PGNiG also claimed on September 11 that Russian gas deliveries to Poland had fallen.
In June, Russia introduced a prepayment mode of gas deliveries to Ukraine over its $5.3 billion debt and warned that it could reduce gas supplies to Europe should Kiev siphon off gas transited to Europe through its territory. On July 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, however, that Moscow would not aggravate the situation, although it saw the artificiality of reverse gas supplies from Europe to Ukraine.


Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 25, 2014

EP committee examines EU energy security plan. --Six EU countries depend on Russia as the supplier for their entire gas imports.

European Parliament (EP) industry committee debated on the energy security plans this week, seeking ways for the European Union (EU) to reduce energy dependence, EP said in a statement published on Thursday.

The energy security plan, submitted by the European Commission, aims to improve the EU's situation of relying on the external energy.

Statistics shows the EU imports 53 percent of the energy it consumes, including almost 90 percent of its crude oil, 66 percent of its natural gas and 42 percent of its solid fuels such as coal.

In 2013 the bill for importing energy amounted to about 400 billion euros (about 538.5 billion US dollars), said the EP.

Meanwhile, EU is also heavily dependent on one single supplier, namely Russia, responsible for a third of oil imports, 39 percent of gas and 26 percent of solid fuels. Six EU countries depend on Russia as the supplier for their entire gas imports.

  • That can make the EU "vulnerable to external energy suppliers", the statement said.
The EU is now seeking to reduce this dependence by diversifying energy sources and suppliers, cutting back on energy consumption, boosting energy production and cooperation between countries and investing in renewable energy.

These initiatives and others have all been outlined in the European energy security strategy, which was presented by the European commission in May and debated by the industry committee this week.

"Energy security will play a prominent role in the work of the committee in the months to come. This issue is of crucial importance to all of us." Chair of the EP industry committee Jerzy Buzek said earlier this week. (1 euro = 1.35 US dollars)

Sources: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn


Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 11, 2014

Security of gas supply: the role of gas developments in the Mediterranean region

European Commission, Joint Statement, Malta, 11 July 2014.
Joint statement by Günther H. Oettinger, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for energy, and Konrad Mizzi, Minister for Energy and Health of the Government of Malta:

Today, Energy Ministers from the EU, North Africa and the East Mediterranean, high officials, industry representatives and key stakeholders in the energy sector met in Malta to exchange views on how gas-related developments in the Mediterranean region can enhance security of supply in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

This discussion takes place at a critical time when the wider geopolitical events could have implications on energy security. In reaction to this, and in line with the European Council conclusions of March 2014, the European Union is putting further impetus on its supply diversification objectives. North African and Eastern Mediterranean countries are also looking to develop their economies and meet increasing domestic energy demand. 

The Participants agreed that secure, sustainable and affordable energy is a priority for all, and is a key factor for underpinning stability and prosperity in the region. They underlined the importance of regional cooperation to strengthen security of supply but also to favour regional trade at the interest of both gas producers and consumers in the EU, North Africa and the Middle East. 

The Participants underlined their general willingness to further strengthen regional energy cooperation and to support the progressive development of joint actions such as infrastructure plans, in order to support solutions that provide best alternatives with the objective of reinforcing the energy market in the Mediterranean region. This will provide real trade opportunities for producing North African and East-Mediterranean countries and consuming countries in the wider Mediterranean region and the EU.

In doing so the importance of a stable and predictable political, legal and regulatory framework was stressed, as was the importance of promoting an attractive investment environment for local and third party investors.

In order to progress on these issues, the Ministers agreed in principle to establish a 'Euro-Mediterranean Platform on Gas’ that would bring together policy makers, industrial representatives, regulators and energy stakeholders. This Platform will assist in the development of Euro-Mediterranean relations on gas issues. Its aim will be in particular to ensure greater convergence between the policies of the various countries, address upstream production challenges, promote third party upstream investments, improve the conditions for imports of oil and gas from producing countries, develop the necessary infrastructure of common interest, promote technology cooperation, examine gas pricing mechanisms, facilitate market access, cooperate on the domain of safety and security and work together on the promotion of regional energy security.
The Euro-Med gas platform would contribute to the ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing Europe's energy security and at meeting specific 2030 interconnection objectives. 

The scope of work and the operating rules of the 'Euro-Mediterranean Platform on Gas’, could be developed with the support of the "Observatoire Méditerranéen de l'Énergie" (OME).
The further elaboration on the modus operandi of the platform will be discussed in the coming months with a view to establishing a fully-fledged proposal to be endorsed at the High Level Conference on "Euro-Mediterranean Energy Partnership" which will take place in Rome on 19 November 2014.
Participants discussed the possibility of this platform playing a key role in the creation of a Mediterranean Gas Hub in line with the European Energy Security Strategy (EESS).

For further information
"Security of gas supply – The role of gas developments in the Mediterranean region" conference, Malta (10-11 July 2014)..............http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-222_en.htm?locale=en

Πέμπτη, Ιουνίου 26, 2014

Russia in Continued Military Overhaul (Putin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday it was his government’s priority to defend the nation against potential military threats, with the help of improved armed forces.

“We are bringing [the military] to a whole new level to keep it on par with the requirements of the 21st century,” Putin said in a speech to military academy graduates in the Kremlin.

“It’s evident that only a mobile, highly effective army and fleet are capable of solving the strategic task of securing Russia’s safety, sovereignty and national interests. The main goal is to defend our citizens against potential military threats,” Putin said.

The Russian president vowed to continue surprise checks in the military, saying no unit, including peacekeeping forces, would be exempt from unannounced inspections.

Putin pointed out a sharp increase in military spending, which has resulted in higher basic pay and better social protection for army personnel.

“Military personnel are being provided with housing. Starting this year, accommodation is being distributed according to a plan, we are arranging mortgage subsidies and perfecting the accumulative mortgage system,” the president said.

On Monday, peacekeeping troops in central Russia were alerted to a spot check, which came as part of a comprehensive inspection of Central Military District forces ordered by President Putin.

The tests are to run from June 21 to June 28, with progress and completion reports provided daily. The combat readiness checks are to cover about 65,000 troops of all branches of the armed forces. The checks also involve over 180 aircraft, 60 helicopters and more than 5,500 units of weaponry and military equipment.

[MOSCOW, June 26 (RIA Novosti)]

Παρασκευή, Ιουνίου 13, 2014

Obama: Iraq has to solve its own problems

President says US troops will not be sent back to Iraq, but his administration is reviewing options to assist Baghdad....

President Barack Obama has said that the United States will not be sending its troops back to Iraq, but is reviewing other options to assist the Iraqi government threatened by an advancing armed group.
"We will not be sending US troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces," Obama said on Friday.

"The US will do our part, but ultimately it's up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems," he said speaking at the White House lawn.
He said that the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL) has made significant gains in Iraq and that the armed group had overrun part of the country. 
The threat by ISIL fighters in Iraq poses a danger to the people of Iraq and also, potentially Americans, Obama said.

Administration officials said Obama was considering airstrikes using drones or manned aircraft. Other short-term options include an increase in surveillance and intelligence gathering, including satellite coverage and other monitoring efforts.
The US also is likely to increase various forms of aid to Iraq, including money, military training and both lethal and non-lethal equipment. 

Obama added that Iraq's government must make a sincere effort to address sectarian differences, or else US military help would not succeed in curbing the violence there.
He suggested it could take several days before the administration finalises its response to the situation on the ground.
The last US troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011 after more than eight years of war.

Τετάρτη, Μαΐου 21, 2014

Paving the way for European energy security

European Commission, Press release, Brussels, 21 May 2014:

Completing the internal energy market, saving energy, increasing domestic energy production as well as diversifying sources, routes and counterparties of energy imports: these are ways to reduce the EU’s energy dependence. Energy leaders discuss the crucial issue today in Brussels at the high-level conference "Paving the way for a European Energy Security Strategy", organised by the European Commission.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will provide orientations on a "European Energy Security Strategy", which the European Commission intends to present ahead of the European Council of 26 and 27 of June. EU Energy Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger will focus on how to strengthen Europe's security of supply and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will present his proposal for an Energy Union for Europe

Representatives from Member States and third countries as well as energy companies, regulators, business and consumer associations, think-tanks gather today in Brussels to discuss ways to reduce the EU’s energy dependence. In the morning participants will focus on energy demand and production, energy efficiency, integrating the internal energy market, diversifying energy sources and routes and the role of the EU’s external energy policy. In the afternoon European Commission President Barroso, Energy Commissioner Oettinger and Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk will further discuss how to strengthen Europe's security of supply.

European Commission President Barroso said: "The Ukraine crisis once again confirms that it is in our own interest to choose a path towards a low carbon, competitive and energy secure European Union. Increasing our security of supply has been an overarching goal of European energy and climate policies for years - now it is time to take it one step further. It is vital for our prosperity, for our strength and our credibility. So we have to prove that European cooperation and integration is the right way – the only way - to overcome such challenges. The Commission will make very clear proposals to the June European Council. It is then for our Member States to run with that ball."

EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger added: "The Commission is intensively working on a new European Energy Security Strategy. As there is no miracle solution for increasing energy security, we have to address the issue from different angles. We need to diversify our supplier countries, especially in the field of gas. The development of the Southern Corridor, which will enable gas deliveries from Azerbaijan as from the end of 2019 is crucial in this respect. In addition, we need to intensify our efforts in the area of energy efficiency. A key element for increasing energy security is of course the completion of the internal energy market and upgrading the gas and electricity infrastructure in the EU. The first call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility that helps to finance important projects is now open. In the first round €750 million - out of a total of 5.85 billion until 2020 - will be made available".

Following the March European Council the European Commission is conducting an in-depth study of EU energy security and will present a Strategy to reduce Europe's energy dependence ahead of the European Council of 26 and 27 of June. This plan will include a strategy to turn the current international situation into an opportunity to rethink the EU's energy security.
Today, the EU imports 53% of the energy it consumes. Energy dependence relates to crude oil (almost 90%), to natural gas (66%), and to a lesser extent to solid fuels (42%) as well as nuclear fuel (40%). The value of imports is more than 1 billion Euros per day. In 2013 energy supplies from Russia accounted for 42% of EU natural gas imports and 33% of oil imports.
The share of renewables is constantly increasing, and in 2012 it reached 14.1% of final energy consumption. Today, more than 50% of electricity production is CO2 free (including both renewable and nuclear energy). Looking at the future, reaching the target of 20% of energy efficiency in 2020 would mean 371 Mtoe of energy savings.

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