On September 13th, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry met with Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, as well as with Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
“Just concluded a productive meeting with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak. I look forward to continuing our dialogue within the current constraints of our bilateral relationship,” Perry said on his Twitter page.
“I also informed by the colleague about the negotiations which are currently under way with the European Union and Ukraine, regarding the possibility of further use of Ukraine’s gas transportation system, taking into account the need to complete all litigations and the possibility of extending those contracts in the future,” Novak said. After the talks, TASS cited Novak as having said that Russia and the United States may establish a joint investment fund in the sphere of energy efficiency and new technologies, with the possible participation of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund.
US Department of Energy released statements for both visits, containing a summary of what was discussed between the ministers.
In his meeting with Alexander Novak, the two Energy Ministers discussed ways in which the US and Russia, two of the world’s top producers of natural gas and leading producers of oil can work together to ensure world energy market stability, transparency, and sustainability.
Rick Perry also expressed his disappointment and concern about “Russia’s continued attempts to infiltrate the American electric grid.”
He finally discussed the mutual responsibilities both countries have in ensuring the management of nuclear power for peaceful purposes.
Perry said that despite welcoming competition from Russia in energy markets across Europe, Asia and elsewhere, Moscow cannot continue using energy as an “economic weapon.” The US, according to Perry, is now capable of offering an alternative source of supply. “Just this week, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) announced that the United States is now the largest crude oil producer in the world. This summer, U.S. production exceeded Russian output for the first time since 1999,” the statement read.
The statement also reiterated President Trump’s opposition of the Nordstream 2 pipeline, which “expands a single-source gas artery deep into Europe.”
“The US supports the desire of European nations to minimize their dependence on Russia as a single energy supplier, and look forward to increasing LNG exports to the region, as announced by President Trump and EU President Juncker in June,” the statement claimed.
Perry also emphasized that as two of the world’s top producers of natural gas and oil, the US and Russia have a joint responsibility to improve international energy security and global stability. Both Secretary Perry and Energy Minister Novak agreed to continue “this previously dormant energy dialogue” and to search for ways to cooperate, within the guidelines and limitations of the US-Russia relationship. According to the statement, the future of the two countries’ energy relations depends on successfully addressing the broader disagreements between them.
During the meeting, Perry said that the US could impose sanctions on a new Russia-Germany gas pipeline. News Observer cited Perry who was asked whether sanctions on the undersea Nordstream 2 pipeline are possible and if further energy-related sanctions are planned, Perry said: “Yes to your first question and yes to your second.”
He, however, reiterated that the US does not wish to impose the sanctions and that they are not imminent. “Minister Novak and I both agree that getting to that point where sanctions would be engaged is not where we want to go,” Perry said. He did not specify what level of progress of Nordstream 2 could trigger sanctions or what they could be.
Novak said that the project would continue to be implemented and that Perry’s words regarding sanctions are a cause of concern.
News Observer cited Analyst Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory, a consultancy, who said that sanctioning the Russian energy sector over Nord Stream could be difficult because of its vast size and dominant market position in Europe. Instead, Weafer argues, the U.S. may try to cut a deal.
The RT also reported that during the meeting between the two Energy ministers, RT’s Maria Finoshina asked a question about the “apparent contradiction between the US accusations against Russia over its alleged use of energy policy as a political tool and Washington’s own threats to bring Iranian oil revenues to “zero.””
According to the outlet, Perry did not address the issue, he instead “preferred to explain that the US is simply in a unique position allowing it to basically impose its will on other countries, and the likes of Iran are, naturally, expected to oblige.”
“The message to Iran is that we expect them to be acceptable neighbors, acceptable members of society,” Perry said, adding that such is not only the will of Washington but that of “some Iran’s neighbors.”
According to RT the US Secretary of Energy said that Saudi Arabia, which is the closest US ally in the Middle East and Iran’s rival in the region, is “very supportive of the activities we are involved in” while finding Tehran’s behavior “unacceptable.”
As cited by RT Perry then commented that every country has “responsibilities about [their] actions in the world” as part of the “global citizenry.” He further said that “we expect the Iranian government to abide by what we consider a civilized activity.”
“The message to the Iranian government is clear: if you cannot … participate as a reasonable citizen, there will be sanctions that will cost you”, Perry was cited by RT as saying, adding that “the United States is in a position today to send a message to countries that do not participate in a civilized way that they will be punished.”
The report by the RT has not been confirmed by either statement of the US Department of Energy, nor any other official channel.
During the other meeting, Russian first deputy prime minister and finance minister Anton Siluanov and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry agreed during their Thursday’s meeting in Moscow that the Russian-US dialogue should continue both at the political and business level.
“Anton Siluanov and Rick Perry noted the need to continue dialogue between Russia and the United States at the level of state and businessmen, despite the current difficult period in the two states’ relations,” Siluanov’s spokesman said.
The statement by the US Secretary of Energy described the meeting between Siluanov and Rick Perry as “candid” and focused on challenges of the bilateral relationship while recognizing the importance of communicating on energy issues of mutual importance to the United States and Russia.
Perry once more reiterated the Trump Administration’s firm opposition of the Nordstream 2 pipeline, because “he project would concentrate a single route of Russian gas into Europe, one vulnerable to disruption and risks of over reliance for European consumers.” He further said that the US firmly supports the Minsk agreement and “will side with allies and friends against any Russian acts of subversion and destabilization.”
He once again emphasized that it is in both countries’ interest to further international energy security and global stability.