USA lends oil-helping hand to former Soviet republics and waves aside dumping accusations

In connection with the rise in hydrocarbon prices, US President George W. Bush lifts a long-standing ban on oil and gas drilling in the Bristol Bay. But in this connection also comes to memory a recent demand of anti-Russian congressmen to support the attempts of countries with young democracies, Georgia and Ukraine in particular, to become independent in the energy sphere.

US Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said that soon the field in the water area of the Bristol Bay near Alaska would be put up for tenders, and that would become a recommencement of drilling after a 16-year interval.

Oil and gas drilling was temporarily prohibited after a large-scale oil spill at an Exxon Mobil petroleum platform in 1990 as a result of which a huge number of fish, whales and sea-lions died. After the accident, environmentalists strongly prohibited any kind of similar activity in the area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the world’s richest one in salmon, crabs and cod.

The oil and gas stock of the region with the already developed oil reserves amounting to 10.5 billion barrels is too economically attractive to be kept back.

In 2003, senator Ted Stephens from Alaska suggested lifting the prohibition on the grounds that oil and gas production in the area would not disturb the ecological balance. Other lobbyists of oil monopolies were also gradually making congressmen ready for the probability of drilling recommencement in the region.

The sudden rise in carbohydrates prices made the US Minerals Management Service especially anxious and it said it would be good to recommence mining of fields in the North-Aleutian basin where the Bristol Bay and the northern part of the Bering Sea together with the territory of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge belong.

As a result of the efforts taken, in December 2006 US President Bush said he was considering lifting the ban on oil and gas drilling in the above stated regions of Alaska and the adjacent waters. And already on January 9 it was officially announced that oil prospecting and drilling would be recommenced in Alaska. Also, similar bans were lifted as concerning oil and gas mining in the central part of the Gulf of Mexico better known as Lease Area 181.

The US Secretary of Interior said that one or two licenses on exploration of a sector of over 22.5 thousand square kilometers near Alaska’s western coast would be implemented within 2007-2012. He added the decisions taken give a wonderful opportunity to study the situation before mining of the areas begins.

Kempthorne also emphasized that an extensive research would be conducted and the public opinion would be studied before well-boring begins in the region.

But American environmentalists strongly protests against recommencement of oil and gas mining in the BristolBay and have already submitted a legislation to prohibit mining in the area to the House of Representatives. They state that recommencement of carbohydrates mining in the region will exterminate rare species of whales, sea-lions and precious fishes.

At that, political experts are sure that there is just an insignificant chance that such a prohibition in connection with ecologists’ demands can be imposed under the existing conditions of severe energy shortage and rapid growth of energy consumption in the world. Oil and gas reserves are not enough for all, and this is why Americans have to open their reserves kept back during the global confrontation with the USSR.

On the first day of the Congress sessions after adjournment nine well-known senators submitted legislation named ‘Energy Diplomacy and Security Act’, and one of its clauses supposes support to young democracies, of Ukraine and Georgia in particular, in their aspirations to become independent in the energy sphere.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee Joseph Biden are the co-authors of the legislation. Lugar is known as an ardent Russophobe and an active supporter of ‘colored’ revolutions on the territories of former Soviet republics.

The document says it is necessary to promote democracy globally through partnership with foreign governments, especially with those of young democracies such as Ukraine and Georgia, in their striving for reducing the dependence upon oil and gas imports.

At that, the legislation does not mention how the dependence upon oil and gas imports can be reduced. However, it is highly likely that American politicians have in mind direct supplies of oil and gas at prices lower than the world price. It is quite natural that nothing was directly said about dumping at all in the document complied by American politicians but the ideas stated in it have much in common with dumping indeed.

If America planned to purchase oil at the world market for partially gratuitous or obviously dumping supplies to Ukraine or Georgia at the expense of the US taxpayers the country could face a terrible scandal. No scandal will arise if America uses its previously preserved oil reserves for lending a helping hand to young democracies.

America seems to have found a reason for openingits oil and gas reserves. American corporation can receive high profits from selling carbohydrates to Ukraine and Georgia at lower than the world prices and at that successfully avoid accusations of dumping.

It is known that the Bush clan has its serious concerns in the petroleum business, and it is highly likely to gain a lot from opening America’s oil and gas reserves.

Nikolay Nevsky

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov