December 5, 2022

Joe Biden’s energy bungle

This is about an arbitrary ban that Biden has announced on oil and gas from Russia without giving any thought towards how the gaping energy void would be filled up. Russia meets 10 per cent of American requirements of natural gas and oil, and 40 per cent of the EU

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

The US and NATO expansion up to Russia’s doorsteps are not the only reason for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US Department of Defense (DoD) signed an agreement with Ukraine in 2005 to ‘develop and store’ pathogens in Ukraine, for which the US DoD gave US$15 million to bio-labs in Ukraine – covert development of biological weapons. Russia had no option but to invade Ukraine; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy being the comedian-mascot of Washington, and Biden deliberately rejecting the demands for Russia’s existential security put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

America’s humiliation in Afghanistan seems to have hit Joe Biden so badly he has gone berserk with sanctions against Russia without due thought how these will affect the US and Europe; a sign that senility is replacing the gaffes he was earlier famous for. The US and NATO are pumping arms, money and mercenaries in Ukraine knowing they cannot afford to attack Russian forces that may mean nuclear retaliation. The US cannot afford this and Europe will be devastated. Hence the continuous sanctions, including debarring Russia from using the SWIFT system.

The joke going around is that Biden is behaving like the village money lender who has got himself into a corner by enraging the village strongman and is now cowering in the toilet but keeping the windows open because he is thinking of oil day and night and the gas needs to escape. So desperate has he become that the speculation is he may engineer a biological attack in Ukraine and put the blame on Russia, which would be another measure of his rising senility. That is why his administration is forecasting a possible Russian chemical attack as a false flag operation because Russia has called for a UNSC meeting to discuss America developing biological weapons in Ukraine.

Now the question being asked is that since Joe Biden has proved he is co-brother of Chinese President Xi Jinping as biological bombers, who is going to arrange the party? Will it be Britain’s Boris Johnson with his expertise in throwing party after party despite the pandemic or will it be Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor who gave US$7.4 million for biological research to the P-4 lab in Wuhan, China and would have been involved in funding research for biological weapons in Ukraine, Algeria and Kazakhstan? 

But this is about an arbitrary ban that Biden has announced on oil and gas from Russia without giving any thought towards how the gaping energy void would be filled up. Russia meets 10 per cent of American requirements of natural gas and oil, and 40 per cent of the EU. At the State of the Union address delivered by Joe Biden on March 1, he announced the release of 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves, of which 30 million barrels would be out of US reserves – much to the clapping of the Congressmen.

Obviously, Biden had no idea that 60 million barrels released from the global reserves is just a drop in the bucket – equivalent to two million barrels a day for 30 days, while the US itself consumes an average of about 20 million barrels per day. Germany being the largest consumer of Russian oil in Europe, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he opposes cutting off energy supplies from Russia, terming imports of oil and gas of “essential importance” to European economy, and adding, “It’s therefore a conscious decision on our part to continue activities of business enterprises in the area of energy supply with Russia.”

Biden had no idea that 60 million barrels released from the global reserves is just a drop in the bucket – equivalent to two million barrels a day for 30 days, while the US itself consumes an average of about 20 million barrels per day. Germany being the largest consumer of Russian oil in Europe, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he opposes cutting off energy supplies from Russia, terming imports of oil and gas of “essential importance” to European economy, and adding, “It’s therefore a conscious decision on our part to continue activities of business enterprises in the area of energy supply with Russia

While America is providing oil to Europe at four times the price as Russia with the clever village money lender filling its own coffers, obviously this will also apply to the 30 million barrels being released from the US reserves. But the bigger question is where is Biden going to find the other 30 million barrels of oil from the global reserves (which also is hardly a drop in the bucket) and more importantly, from where will he find the oil to fill the huge void if all imports of oil and gas are halted from Russia?

Biden first approached Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) to increase oil production. But they both shooed him off, which is not surprising considering the erratic US policies towards Saudi Arabia in recent years and the mayhem caused by US-NATO in West Asia and elsewhere over the decades, which is now coming to the fore in comparison to the noise being made over the destruction in Ukraine just because it is a European country.

The choice then fell on Iran and Venezuela. Iran has been subjected to massive economic sanctions by the US for so many years. The US has still not joined the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as Iran nuclear deal. But why should Iran not exploit the desperation and predicament of Biden due to energy shortages by first insisting on lifting all the sanctions – not part by part as the US would want? Moreover, even when all sanctions are lifted, why should Iran export all the oil to the US and Europe rather than exporting more oil to China and commence oil export to neighbours like India who were constrained to import oil from Iran because of the US sanctions?

Here also, Biden has a problem because Israel does not want the US to rejoin JCPOA. So, Biden sent US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel to plead that Israel does not oppose Biden’s move lest his ratings fall even further. This was followed by Blinken visiting Iran. What has been the outcome of these visits is yet to be seen.

Coming to Venezuela, some US Senators were opposed to importing oil from that country since it is ruled by socialist-dictator Nicolas Maduro and he and his country has been under severe US sanction for the past several years. But despite these reservations, Biden sent a delegation to Caracas, capital of Venezuela, to discuss the possibility of boosting oil production in return for easing of sanctions (all or some?). What a travesty of fate that for one man Joe Biden’s ego, the Biden administration is going begging around in Iran and Venezuela on whom the US arbitrarily placed severe sanctions for the past so many years. 

The story does not end here. Biden no doubt will get Venezuelan oil back on the market but considering the “dilapidated” state of the oil industry, how many years would it take to get to the capacity to fill the void of Russian oil, what would be the costs compared to Russian oil and what would be its quality compared to Russian supplies? Obviously, Biden and his administration have no ready answers.

While America is providing oil to Europe at four times the price as Russia with the clever village money lender filling its own coffers, obviously this will also apply to the 30 million barrels being released from the US reserves. But the bigger question is where is Biden going to find the other 30 million barrels of oil from the global reserves (which also is hardly a drop in the bucket) and more importantly, from where will he find the oil to fill the huge void if all imports of oil and gas are halted from Russia?

So, what happens next? With oil prices in the US at an all time high since 2008 and Europe facing an energy void, will Biden order Europeans to get out their shovels and start digging for oil. Europe seriously needs to start thinking rather than being treated as hostages.  

The author is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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