Putin's Crimea Bonus: Vast Oil And Gas Fields

Crimea's secession to Russia - and Putin's gracious acceptance of their request for annexation - has focused all eyes on the peninsula's landmass and rolling tanks; but, as we have noted previously, NY Times reports that when Russia acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars. It's all about the resources as we have noted previously but Russian officials are quick to play this down, "compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there," but as one analyst noted, Russia’s annexation of Crimea "so obvious" as a play for offshore riches. No wonder Putin is happy to take on the 'burden' of Crimea.

 

Donetsk's huge shale fields... And as other regions in east and south Ukraine follow in the Donetsk' footsteps, assuring Russia a land connection to Crimea and cutting off Kiev from the Donbas industrial zones and the Slavyansk shale gas, Putin wins again.

 

And, as NY Times notes, Crimea's offshore resources are a dramatic bonus...

 

As NY Times reports, when Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

 

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

 

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

 

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

 

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

 

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As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

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