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Gasprom’s Polish War

09-12-2011  News

Russian diplomats – officers have been particularly active in Brussels for many months. One of the commissions at the European Parliament which will be examining potential effects of the shale gas extraction is in the field of their interest.
The extraction of the shale gas is harmful to the environment – such media campaign has been organised for over a year by  public relations companies linked with the Russian Gazprom. During the same period, the companies related with Russia have been trying to accumulate as much rights to that resource in Europe, in particular in Poland, as possible. Energy independence, not only of Poland but of the entire Europe, is at stake.  Polish shale gas deposits are estimated to be the largest in Europe (5,9 trillion m3). For a comparison, at present we use approx. 14 billion m3 a year. If we start to extract our own deposits, then we will not only become entirely independent and energetically secure but also we will become an important exporter of that resource. Today, it entails the reduction of the energy resource prices around the world. However, Russia was building not only the concept of the recreation of the imperial influences on such resources but also its relative prosperity. The reduction of prices on that market would lead to the slump of the Russian budget and economy. The key objective of the Russian propaganda campaign is to publicise the alleged harmfulness of the shale gas extraction for the environment. This message has been repeated by the Russian media, politicians and businessmen for a long time. The Gazprom authorities spend hundreds of thousand of dollars to create subsequent reports and expert’s studies, speaking about the degradation of the environment in the result of the shale gas extraction. Such materials are then used by the Russian intelligence which inspires press publications which are aimed at convincing western public opinion about the thesis proposed. 
Russian diplomats - officers have been particularly active in Brussels for many months. One of the commissions at the European Parliament which will be examining the potential effects of the shale gas extraction is in the field of their interest. They diligently watch the activeness of the Polish members of parliament in Brussels which are to file a new motion about this. The Russians want to influence the members of the European Commission which is to develop the new legal solution to regulate in the future the shale gas extraction. For Russians, the target direction is the approval of the regulations by the European Commission which would prohibit the shale gas extraction due to the environmental damage. The example of France where the parliament forced through the prohibition to use one of the most developed and cheapest methods of the shale gas extraction, hydraulic crushing, shows that this is realistic. Russian ecology game seems to be even easier as in the European Parliament there are many politicians who have background in the environmental movements and also pacifist movements which since the 60s of the previous century have been perfectly penetrated by the Russians. They will not hesitate to inspire and finance the “social” protests concerning this matter, using German and French environmental organisations. The modus operandi will be the same as was used during the times of the cold war. Back then, the environmentalists “spontaneously” protested against the American atomic warheads in Europe and the arms race. Who truly stood behind the protests was revealed when the former KGB archivist, Vasili Mitrokhin, ran with his archive to Great Britain.
However, this is only the beginning of the propaganda war for the shale gas. Only the Czechs seem to notice the problem. The former head of the military intelligence service (VZS), Andor Szandor, alarmed that the Russians started their manoeuvres and, as it happened in the past, with respect to the shale gas they influence public opinion through environmental and peace organisations. Also, the former Chief of Staff of the Czech army, gen. Jirzi Szedivy, who emphasised that the Russians would do everything to “maintain the position of the supplier”, spoke about the Russian actions. In Poland there is little of such opinions. Only during the Economic Forum in Krynica one could hear the real assessments of the Russian propaganda activities in Europe around the shale gas. The present Minister of Treasury, Mikołaj Budzanowski, stated, among others, that the “foreign reports saying that the shale gas extraction harms the environment are a lie and a manipulation behind which stand Russians". But as always, the Russians anticipate also in this case the scenario which is bad for them. That is why independently of the misinformation campaign which they conduct with respect to the shale gas, they started the fight for obtaining licenses for the exploration and extraction of the unconventional gas.
As it follows from the data of the European Commission, only in Poland Russian companies have over one fifth of all the licenses. Obviously, Russians do not mean to be the first ones in the potential exploitation. They want to buy as much licenses as possible to be able to block the shale gas extraction in the future. In Poland there are no mechanisms yet which would enable the stopping of this process. The war for the shale gas is on. However, the Polish authorities behave like this conflict would not have applied to them. This is another mistake after 1989. In the 90s. Poland was made dependent on the supplies of oil and gas from Russia in a similar way. It suffices to say that back then we imported over half of the required crude oil through Naftoport. Then, the Russians started lobbing, which was successful, in the result of which the largest Polish refineries constructed the infrastructure which is used exclusively to process Russian heavy crude oil. The consequence is such that currently the purchases of that resource from other directions are less profitable. Similarly, the Russians torpedoed any attempt to create an alternative to the purchase of gas from Russia. Neither the gas pipeline connecting us with Norway was created nor the short section linking our system with the German one (Bernau-Szczecin). Let the words of the former and the future President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who in December 2005 openly admitted: “There is no area other than the energy sector in which we could try to be the world leader”, be the memento.
Source: Gazeta Finansowa, page no.: 1, 2011-12-09, by: Leszek Pietrzak


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