Oil and gas
Given their importance in Germany and Eastern Europe, Russian oil & natural gas European energy dependencies are not substitutable in the short term.
For oil, negotiations to mitigate the sanctions against Iran and Venezuela are the solutions whose political cost can be managed
For natural gas, on the other hand, the crisis is manageable from the next winter by maximizing the share of electricity generated by German lignite and coal in Central Europe. This “war economy” pollutes more than peace energy, and the alert of March 2014 will again be in the minds “is the French atmosphere polluted by German coal“.
In the medium term, Germany will also import more US shale gas, and there will be less talk of “Russian gas-U.S. LNG: nationalism or peace in Europe” at that time.
Then Berlin must make its revolution of ideas by extending and then relaunching modern nuclear power plan that would act as a cleaner of nuclear waste. When burned, it becomes a fuel and produces electricity without using mined uranium. We will then talk again about ” What iIf Angela nuked Germany“, “Thorium, the nuclear power of the future” and “The purchasing power of nuclear power: what EELV should know“.
France and Europe have nuclear waste, that is to say this fuel and this sovereign, cheap, controllable electricity, it is therefore within reach and for the next 5,000 and 10,000 years. What are we waiting for? Fessenheim, the Astrid program, the small modular reactors, the EPRs and tomorrow the fast neutron reactors, electrical sovereignty is a long term and heavy thing. It cannot be established in the zigzagging political inconstancy around electoral fashions.
These references on natural gas and nuclear show that the whole of this electrical crisis and its solutions have been marked out for several years.
The Ukrainian crisis shows that the fake news about “rare metals” was only a staging created to blind the neophytes.
Indeed, in this crisis of economic warfare through sanctions, all metals become strategic, and fears of shortage are focused on “big metals” and not on “small metals”.
To date, with the exception of two sanctioned “metallurgical” oligarchs, which impact the steel, iron ore, gold or diamond market, the major Russian companies from aluminum to nickel, including palladium, platinum, rhodium, copper, cobalt, titanium, uranium etc., are not sanctioned. However, in the event of a problem, substitution and eco-design can be used.
A word about uranium, why is this energy commodity not sanctioned? The American nuclear industry is addicted to cheap Russian uranium. Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan account for 50% of the needs of American nuclear power plants and 20% of electricity production, while the share of Russian gas and oil is marginal. These figures are quite opposite to those of Europe and explain why Brussels will have a different vision of the Russian resources to be sanctioned.
However, European self-sanctions in support of Ukraine are also likely to put European industries at risk. How can one be sure of the origin of a particular metal when it has passed through the trading screen, how can one know that it has not passed through sanctioned hands and if the European buyer becomes complicit without knowing it? The buyer creates the criticality by not buying.
Another aspect, the necessary support for democracy in Ukraine is also the Western supplier of bauxite that does not deliver the Irish alumina plant of Rusal, whose Russian president-oligarch has nevertheless criticized the war. We are not trying to divide the warring parties into pro and anti, to bring back reason. This is the price for democracy and peace.
Moreover, given the military developments we will have to intensively support Ukraine in the very long term. But France is demonstrating how zigzagging can make a mining policy unreadable, and we will talk again about “Salau and Lannion: what mining policy“.
We must therefore replace imports with a solid European Mining Doctrine with long-term visions based on mines, especially for France with its deposits of tungsten, titanium, lithium, rare earths and a few tons of copper or bauxite. Thus, Europe will regain a metallurgical and mining sovereignty of about 50%, which is enormous compared to the current 5%.
Agricultural Europe is no longer self-sufficient. It is regrettable that the amateurism of public authorities has not resolutely stopped the suicides of farmers, by daring to rebuild agricultural financial sovereignty.
Ukraine is among the world leaders in many fields: wheat, sunflower oil, barley, corn, potatoes, rye… The war is killing agriculture both now, in the spring for planting, and later for harvesting. The food crisis will hit North Africa and Europe by ricochet, inevitably, this year and next. Within 18 months, only peace will bring back the harvests.
This panorama does not take into account possible sanctions that would be taken by Russia against the countries that sanction it. If Moscow were to voluntarily disrupt its own exports of energy, metals, agricultural products or timber, risking domestic social unrest, this would stop many Western factories, but probably not Asian ones. It is this reversal that is most to be feared.
This rapid overview once again raises questions about our ability to build sovereignty in times of peace, based on National commodities Doctrines (metals, energy, agriculture), and about the inability of our politicians to ignore them despite our warnings.