Behind the War… the Gas War

An article from La Tribune des travailleurs (France), Octobre 12

Eight days before the invasion of Ukraine on February 16, 2022, La Tribune des Travailleurs published a contribution by American anti-war activist Jack Rasmus, entitled: « Ten reasons why the United States would want Russia to invade Ukraine. » Among these reasons, Rasmus mentioned the gas war: « Russian gas is significantly cheaper than natural gas purchased from the United States. For years, the United States has been pressuring Germany to stop the Nord Stream 2 project and buy liquefied natural gas from the United States at higher prices. (…) U.S. oil companies want to sell their gas in order to eliminate the supply glut in the United States. This would bring not only profits by selling more to Germany, but also create supply shortages in the U.S., allowing U.S. companies to raise their prices in the U.S. domestic market. » 

Seven months later, where are we?

Sanctions against Russia and acts of sabotage against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have significantly cut off the flow of Russian gas to Europe. The International Energy Agency (IEA) notes: « The drying up of Russian gas, in response to the sanctions against Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine, has caused prices on world markets to soar and led Europeans to seek supplies from other sources, importing massive amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG), particularly from the United States » (Agence France-Presse, October 3). 

Problem: « Are the United States charging indecent prices on the gas market? Yes, according to Berlin. The German Minister of the Economy deplored on Wednesday the ‘astronomical’ prices demanded by the countries ‘friends’ of Germany, the United States in the lead, to provide gas to compensate for the end of Russian deliveries (…). The country, like the entire continent, has turned to the United States, whose share of European LNG imports has risen from 28 % to 45 % between 2021 and 2022« . (Agence France-Presse, October 5). 

But the misfortune of some – the European capitalists, and especially the Germans, who will not fail to make the workers foot the bill – is the good fortune of others: the capitalists of the United States are thus opening up a huge market. A market that was still unhoped-for yesterday, because LNG is derived from shale gas, which is extremely polluting: « Liquefied natural gas has a much worse carbon footprint than gas delivered by pipeline. It emits on average 2.5 times more CO2, according to a study by the firm Carbone 4. This is linked to transportation, distance from the deposits and the method of extraction » (La Croix, April 16, 2022). 

The same people who lecture us about the environment from morning to night suddenly forget their fine words when profits are at stake! For capitalists in the United States, « enticed by the sharp rise in European demand and despite long-term uncertainties, American producers are investing massively in new infrastructure. Three major projects under construction on the Gulf Coast are expected to increase U.S. capacity by more than 50 % by 2027 » (Les Echos, October 4). Who cares about pollution, war and « energy sobriety » for workers, as long as Wall Street profits are ensured! 

Jean Alain