European Union Extends Russia Sanctions

Foreign ministers representing the European Union countries agreed to extend existing sanctions against Russia for an additional six months. The extension continues a set of sweeping sanctions that affect Russian companies and individuals to the end of restricting their ability to interact with Western financial systems. The European Union did not, however, agree not to impose new sanctions against Moscow, a sign that the country still fears possible retaliation.

The extension given to the sanctions makes them active until September, and will be put to a vote whether to extend or not again in July or August. Russia currently controls 33% of the European Union’s natural gas supplies and while it has made concerted efforts to diversify and make its own natural gas transport network robust, it is still not in a position to further alienate Moscow. Sanctions currently impact 132 people and 28 Russian entities.

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News Briefs:

  • The Iranian National Petroleum Company has entered into an agreement with a number of private Turkish companies to build a new power plant in Turkey. The project will be carried out through the joint investment of Iran’s National Iranian Gas Export Company and the NIOC, and is designed to help Iran “diversify its gas exports” and to convert it into electricity to be used by the Turks.
  • The Turkmen government will take anti-crisis measures to protect its economy from the impact of dropping oil and gas prices. Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov stated that the country will artificially raise the prices of certain goods and services and lower the country’s exchange rate through the country’s deputy prime minister, who oversees Turkmen economics and finance.
  • French energy major Total is poised to win a multi-billion dollar contract that will finance TAPI, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline that has long been proposed. The state of the pipeline has been uncertain ever since the initial financers of the bill – US oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil – withdrew their bids to lead the project. The new proposal will see Total extract natural gas from Turkmen fields and export them to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
  • The National Iranian Petroleum Company alleges that an underwater Caspian Sea pipeline proposed by several European companies is not feasible. The Iranian oil giant proposed an alternative that would transport natural gas from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to Europe by way of Turkey. Iran’s oil minister stated that while European companies are currently not engaging with Iran due to political rationale, that some countries are exploring ways by which they could engage with Tehran.
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