By: Merrill Matthews – mailchi.mp/ipi – January 23, 2019
A new round of White House executive actions may be coming to boost the U.S. energy industry against Russia, an ongoing effort that’s hitting Russia’s pocketbook and making it more difficult for Vladimir Putin to use oil and gas as a foreign policy weapon to promote his agenda.
“The Trump administration’s pro-energy policies—from exploring, to drilling, to pumping, to transporting, to refining, to exporting—have helped increase the supplies of oil and gas, putting long-term downward pressure on prices,” said Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews. “And oil and natural gas provide about 40 percent of Russian government revenue.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in a global effort to unite authoritarian regimes with significant fossil fuel reserves, said Matthews, envisioning a kind of “Dark OPEC” that controls enough of the world’s crude oil and natural gas to manage supply, dictate prices and engage in political mischief.
“For example, Putin has been casting a financial lifeline to Venezuela’s strongman President Nicolas Maduro in return for a significant share of several Venezuelan oil and natural gas fields,” said Matthews. “And Venezuela has reportedly signed over a major share of Citgo, a U.S.-based but Venezuela-owned oil refiner, pipeline operator and marketer, as collateral for Russian-provided loans.”
But Trump’s energy policies are reducing Russia’s revenue and hampering Putin’s ability to create global mischief, said Matthews. Last October, U.S. energy companies produced 11.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, a 19 percent increase over October 2017, according to the EIA. Natural gas production increased by 12 percent over the same time period.
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