European Energy: Role Reversal

Former energy giant Britain is having to seek its juice elsewhere. Meanwhile, Germany is quietly becoming Europe’s new energy hub.
From the May 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Knowingly or not, Britain’s geologists may have deceived their nation. Contrary to forecasts and models, oil and gas production has dropped precipitously. Britain, once the hub of European energy, is no longer energy self-sufficient.

By stark contrast, Germany has for years been jockeying to become the new source to fill European energy needs. It has a strategy to take good care of British energy security. But should Britons be concerned about growing too reliant upon their former enemy?

Hubbert’s Peak

According to data produced by Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry (dti), North Sea oil and gas production has now passed what is referred to as Hubbert’s Peak. If true, this is disastrous news for Britain. The North Sea, one of the world’s largest oil fields, has provided energy security and lucrative revenue for Britain for over 40 years.

Hubbert was a Royal Dutch Shell geophysicist who developed peak-oil theory, which shows how typical oil production from a field follows a bell-shaped curve: At some point an oil field reaches peak production, then pumping rates plateau for a short duration before suffering increasingly severe production declines. Regional production falls as newly drilled wells fail to offset slowing production from the many existing, aging wells.

Although Hubbert’s prediction has proved true for U.S. oil production, many geologists and government planners previously rejected Hubbert’s models for various reasons, one of which was that rapidly dropping oil production would supposedly be offset by future technological advances. Unfortunately for the North Sea oil field, economically feasible extraction advances have not materialized to near the degree necessary.

In other words, North Sea oil and gas production may now have entered the stage of prolonged and irreversible decline following Hubbert’s Peak. “[T]he implications for future production and secure indigenous energy supplies could be serious. Both the industry and government have their responsibilities in this,” says Malcolm Webb, the UK Offshore Operators Association chief executive (ukooa press release, February 13).

The worse-than-expected production data, as compiled by the dti, is shocking. These figures indicate that Britain’s oil production peaked during 1999 at 2.6 million barrels per day. The dti’s models predicted annual production declines of 3 to 5 percent, and between 1999 and 2003 that held true. However, since then, the declines have been far greater. During 2005, oil production dropped by 11.2 percent, while available statistics indicate that the decline in 2006 will be dramatically worse, especially since the August figure was down an alarming 16.5 percent from the previous year.

Britain’s natural gas production figures reveal an even uglier picture. Gas production peaked in 2001 and has since fallen by about 4 percent per year. Yet again, recent declines are dramatically worsening. Production was down 16 and 24 percent year over year in September and October respectively. For 2006, total production is expected to be 15 percent lower than during 2005.

According to Scotland’s Press and Journal, it is possible that some oil developments already in construction could temporarily slow the North Sea oil production free-fall, “but there is nothing known out there that might reverse the gas slide” (February 5).

Britain is already a net importer of both oil and gas, but if current production declines continue, some estimates suggest Britain will be compelled to import 90 percent of its natural gas requirements by 2020. This means Britain will have to increasingly look abroad for sources of energy. Not only could this hurt the economy (as Britons would have to spend more money purchasing energy from foreign nations), but, even more importantly, it could also have serious implications for national security.

Who Controls Europe’s Energy?

Most of the national security debate over energy has surrounded whether or not Britain should import Russian gas. Over the past two years, Russia has cut off and/or threatened to cut off gas supplies to countries that balked at paying the massive gas-price increases decreed by Moscow.

With the proposed construction of the Baltic Sea Nord Stream gas pipeline, which would bring Russian gas to Germany before it is distributed to Britain, France and the Netherlands, British voters and politicians alike are understandably wary of becoming dependent on Russia for supplies.

The undersea pipeline, primarily financed by Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom and German energy companies E.On and basf, is “an EU and a Russia project of a size that has never been completed before,” said former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is now Gazprom’s Nord Stream chairman, in February. “We’re seeing Europe and Russia working together like never before in the past.”

Yet it is not Russia that Britain has most to fear.

Germany is molding itself into the energy hub of Europe. Although an extremely strategic development for Germany, the Nord Stream Baltic Pipeline, due to be completed in 2010, is just the latest step in its achieving this goal.

German energy firms already dominate much of Europe’s energy supply networks and utilities. German energy giant E.On, for example, already the largest private worldwide energy establishment, is locked in a battle to take over Spain’s largest energy supplier, Endesa. The hostile takeover of Endesa, itself a massive corporation with operations in Europe and South America, would vastly increase E.On’s energy market supremacy. Through a string of corporate takeovers, E.On has become the dominant energy company in Europe, owning operations in 13 European nations. E.On, through its purchase of Ruhrgas in 2003, is also the largest Western shareholder in Gazprom. German-based rwe and basf are other corporations with major power infrastructure networks across Europe.

“If everything goes according to the German plan, the energy supply of Great Britain—as of other EU states—will be under full German control in a few years,” noted German-Foreign-Policy.com analyst Horst Teubert (February 2).

A Precision Weapon

Teubert continued, “When President Vladimir Putin visited Dresden in the autumn, he said that this would alter the importance of Germany in the energy economy of Western Europe.”

Moscow and Berlin are locked in a high-stakes game of power politics. Once the Baltic pipeline comes online, both Germany and Russia will vastly increase their geopolitical muscle within Europe.

Russia will be able to exert increased influence over certain Eastern European countries. Currently, 80 percent of mainland Europe’s gas imports from Russia enter through the Ukraine, with most of the rest coming through other Eastern nations like Poland and Belarus. Currently, Norwegian gas is the only significant alternative to Russian supplies. The last time Russia shut off the Ukraine’s gas supply, much of the rest of Europe was cut off too. This evoked a huge outcry in which Western European countries put massive pressure on Russia to immediately turn the gas back on. Once the Baltic pipeline is complete, Russia will be able to cut gas deliveries to Eastern Europe without affecting Germany or other downstream Western customers—making its energy supplies an even more precise and lethal weapon with which to influence Eastern European politics, limit the European Union’s eastern expansion, or possibly even try to reverse parts of it.

Germany too will gain influence within Europe during the years ahead as growing proportions of Britain’s, France’s and the Netherlands’ gas supplies are distributed from Russia via Germany. German strategists realize that once the pipeline is complete, they will hold the same gas supply trump card over downstream countries that Russia holds over many Eastern European countries. The importance of the Ukraine and other Eastern countries to Western Europe as energy conduits will decline in proportion to Germany’s increase.

Understandably, certain Eastern European nations are vigorously opposing the construction of the Baltic pipeline. These nations correctly see it as a powerful tool for Germany to impose its will on a greater proportion of Europe, comparing it to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact in which Hitler and Stalin divided up Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania between their empires before invading them during the early days of World War ii.

Britain’s Achilles Heel

Although most European nations do not realize it, they are becoming increasingly dependent upon Germany for the functioning of their economies. German corporations have extended their influence throughout Europe—owning, operating and controlling many of Europe’s most vital industries, utilities and distribution networks.

Why is it that British and many European politicians do not seem to see the Achilles-heel-like potential associated with a future of growing dependence upon Germany for gas supplies and power distribution? The world has witnessed how Russia used control of gas supplies to extract political and economic concessions from the Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia. Is it so inconceivable that Germany, Russia’s old pre-World War ii collaborator, would ever seek to do the same?

Relying upon a nation that you fought a world war with just 60 short years ago to provide your nation’s power supply could be extremely dangerous—yet that is exactly what Britain seems set to do.

Britain’s energy-independent days look just about over. Instead of supplying and controlling natural gas exports to European nations, Britain is about to become reliant upon Germany (and Russia) for its energy needs. And unlike Norway, which over the years has used its oil and gas profits to invest in alternative energy supplies and create a $250 billion legacy fund, Britain has little to show for its years as an energy exporter. Britain has already spent its windfall of natural resources from the North Sea, and as production rates from its aging fields decline, so will the billions in revenue on which the British economy has come to depend.

This emerging British-German energy relationship is particularly sobering when considered in the context of biblical prophecies that point to Britain, as part of the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel, having a “lover”-type relationship with Germany (anciently, Assyria) and being double-crossed. Our free booklet Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany explains how scriptures like Ezekiel 23 describe Britain, along with America and the State of Israel, being delivered into the hands of the Germans by God as punishment for rebelling against Him. In verse 9 of Ezekiel 23, God states, “Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.” Britain will soon be betrayed by Germany.

Request our free booklet on Hosea to read why Britain will suffer such punishment and what the ultimate outcome will be. In that booklet, Gerald Flurry writes, in reference to Hosea 14, “Britain will have learned their spiritual lessons so deeply that God will restore their former glory. Only this time the glory will be far greater because they will be full of the knowledge of God.”