by Jorge Vilches for the Saker Blog
Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, jointly with Annalena Baerbock — Germany´s Anglophile Minister of Foreign Affairs — have patronized the world from the German Green Party´s self-proclaimed moral high ground thru their ´we truly care´ and ´superior knowledge´ mantras.
Now, both German officials — quite active in the European War Party led by also German Ursula von der Leyen – are behind NATO´s announced increase of military presence in Europe with US headquarters and troops in Poland… plus a 10-fold enlarged rapid-response force up to 300,000 with yet additional troops in Romania and the Baltic states… plus yet more destroyers and F-35s in Europe´s waters and skies… and now considering itself the “unique, essential and indispensable”(sic) bloc while sweeping under the rug the deep existential crisis it has dug Europeans into with no way out for energy and commodities sourcing security. Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/news/558088-biden-troop-deployments-nato-europe/
And precisely to address the current self-inflicted energy debacle, German Minister Habeck is compounding this ugly all-inclusive European conundrum in at least 14 different ways and has (1) shut down Germany´s nuclear power plants including the domino impact upon the inter-connected European electrical grid without any foresight or consideration whatsoever (2) banned excellent, cheap Russian hydrocarbons and distilled petroleum products thereof to which Europe´s entire economy and energy infrastructure is uniquely matched and tuned for, including the superb, proven, mostly un-replaceable Russian Urals crude oil blend and the most convenient Russian Druzbha door-to-door pipeline rendering 24x7x365 already vetted exceptional performance (3) shut down and indefinetly cancelled the most-needed NS2 pipeline for delivery of Russian hydrocarbons, with possible partial expropiatory theft yet again beyond bank deposits and other assets (4) fully ignored the very loud Siemens compliance warning regarding the EU ban on return-delivery of NS1 equipment back to Russia under well-known, scheduled and mandatory Canadian maintenance requirements (5) re-introduced the dirtiest of coals, namely brown coal, as feedstock for German and EU coal-fired power plants (6) rationed hot water and fuel consumption including the amount of time that Herr Habeck himself spends in the shower (7) shamefully placed Russia´s Gazprom Germania in a ´trusteeship´ of sorts which will also prove to be a very expensive mistake (8) promoted a fully counter-productive wind-mill expansion program requiring fossil-fueled equipment for the extraction and transportation of thousands of tons of nickel and rare earths that Europe does not have, plus subsequent movement, erection and maintenance of such wind mills with other fossil fueled equipment that Europe has to import, plus additional fossil fuel power-generating equipment always needed as backstop during low wind seasons such as the last several months, plus tons of fossil-fuel powered equipment to eventually de-commission such wind-mills (9) fast-tracked the LNG Acceleration Act to favor in every possible way the construction of fully unnecessary and super-costly Liquefied Natural Gas terminals in detriment of many other much needed infrastructures so as to many months from now eventually buy über-expensive LNG from the USA which is really the Master Pupeteer behind this anti-Europe Master Plan (10) with direct benefit to Russia, the current lower volume of its oil exports at much higher prices thanks to EU sanctions allows the Ruble to become ever stronger while saving Russian oil for sale to others (11) pushed for a naïve buyer´s oil price cap cartel in a seller’s market (!!!) (12) seized Russian LNG tankers (13) crashed German nat-gas giant Uniper now ready for bail-out and Lehman moment (14) launched Germany and the EU in the most nonsensical “firehose” oil & gas policies already explained to death and with excruciating details Ref # 2 https://thesaker.is/herr-habeck-firehoses-oil-gas/ Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/business/558116-germany-seizes-russian-lng-tankers/ Ref # 4 https://www.rt.com/news/558073-nato-adopts-new-strategic-concept-russia/ Ref #5 https://www.rt.com/business/558126-skepticism-russian-oil-price-cap/ Ref #6 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/uniper-crashes-russian-natgas-supply-crunch-bailout-talks-germany
So, Herr Habeck and Fräulein Baerbock, on behalf of the few future European survivors, please enjoy a loud and clear “bravo, bravissimo, bravo” from your colleague Mario Draghi – Italy´s NATO Prime Minister courtesy of Goldman Sachs – for such creative and successful ´green solutions´ that will have both of you go down in history forever.
Unbeknownst to EU politicians and to these two ignorant dilettantes, Europe´s diesel is now strictly in Russian hands.
I have said it before and I´ll say it yet again: no imagination can ever be creative enough to make this stuff up. No way.
Could it be a deliberate insider attack of the West on the West? Will Joe Six-Pack figure all this out soon enough?
Ref #8 https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-economy-minister-on-the-gas-shortage-there-is-a-black-hat-and-putin-is-wearing-it-a-e387bacf-70ce-447f-b7dc-3b48d0ac4178 Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/business/557554-europe-coal-energy-crisis/
Russia rules diesel
European transportation of anything and everything — from people to peanuts to 500,000 metric tons ULCC oil tankers — is 99% diesel-powered. Whomever in Europe wishes or needs to move whatever with whichever vehicle or craft from point A to point B anywhere — either very close or very far away — will need diesel-powered engines somewhere along the line, and sometimes all along the long line. This is a fact, not an opinion. No diesel, no Europe. By the same token – and if so far you´ve only been browsing from now on please focus sharply on every word — less diesel, less Europe… and not enough diesel, no longer Europe as we know it. Furthermore, less diesel necessarily means even far less diesel yet as explained below. But first, let´s recall where diesel comes from.
Diesel comes from distilled crude oil which, as of December 2022 will no longer be from Russia but per the EU sanctions package No.6 from somewhere else yet an unfathomable mystery. Now then, so far nothing to write home about as we all know such circumstances very well and mostly pray and hope for the best right?. Unfortunately, it´s much much worse than that. Why so? Please keep reading, we´ll get there soon enough, in the next couple of paragraphs at the most. Because when we all generically talk about “diesel”, we automatically and exclusively think
of diesel fuel, the beautifully colored liquid we fill up our fuel tanks with. But actually, the problem is three-fold as we have, yes indeed, (1) diesel fuel of course… but also (2) diesel exhaust fluid or DEF + (3) diesel engine lube oil…
and all three are required by diesel engines. And to compound the problem further, the vessels absolutely required for seaborne delivery of non-Russian diesel-refinable crude oil from December 2022 also run on diesel-powered engines. So that´s why above you read “less diesel necessarily means even far less diesel yet ” clear enough?
By the way, other Russian commodities besides their superb Urals blend for diesel distillation are also involved.
(1) diesel fuel
Diesel fuel is required and consumed all along the transportation vectors, from container ships with goods from wherever and the trucks that pick up such goods from European ports and bring them to warehouses and then to homes etc., etc., etc. Same thing for farms that grow food produce and have tractors and vehicles to move stuff around. Trucks, cars, ships, industrial machinery, buses, factories, homes, etc., etc., etc., all require diesel fuel.
(2) diesel exhaust fluid (DEF)
DEF is a solution of urea + de-ionized water required by diesel engines in order to reduce harmful gases released during combustion by catalytic conversion of the nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and steam. In most cases diesel engines will not even start without urea-derived DEF — manufactured as a derivative of natural gas – and normally produced partly in Europe but mostly in Russia and China, the world´s two largest exporters. Europe is now having very serious natural gas supply problems, so no urea — and thus no DEF — will come from Europe. And both China and Russia have stopped exporting urea in order to produce fertilizers for themselves. So without urea anywhere around either of European origin or imported from wherever then no DEF for Europe which means no diesel engines for Europe okay?
(3) diesel engine lube oil
Because of the Ukraine war and previous Covid supply chain problems, key manufacturers of certain additives have curtailed operations, and thus diesel engine lube oil has suffered serious shortage problems worldwide. With foresight, some countries have stockpiled such raw materials for additive manufacturing or improvised new ones. This includes Russia, India, China, and others in Southeast Asia. The additives involved are antioxidants, anti-corrosion agents, dispersing additives, antirust mechanisms, friction modifiers, EP additives, antifoaming agents, antioxidants, and others. Without these additives, traditional manufacturers cannot produce the final oil products for the internal lubrication of diesel engines. Please do remember that all three “diesels” explained above are required by any diesel engine.
So then, let´s summarize the European crude oil-dependency factors that impact availability of diesel products
(A) Crude oil shortage
- Source yet unknown, below please see “what NOT to do” as non-sensical and foolish as it might sound.
Also please see Ref #15 https://thesaker.is/no-fuels-for-europe/
(B) Crude oil seaborne delivery is either poor or has failed
- Diesel fueling problems for tankers, so less crude oil delivery means less diesel refined (vicious circle)
- Suez limitations + Cape Horn problems + piracy + very long trips from far away with serious issues
- Much higher freight costs + much longer distances complicate logistics compliance of batch deliveries.
- Tanker problems & port labor union issues re schedule non-compliance both out-bound and in-bound
- Tanker size limitations in a very tight batch-delivery quantum-discontinuous system
- Tanker availability as 50% of the existing fleet is still fully dedicated to the delivery of Russian oil exports
(C) Crude oil serious port limitations & compromised loading & unloading capabilities
- Port limitations + reforms per the Rostock example at Ref # 17 https://thesaker.is/dear-ursula-you-are-dead-wrong/
(D) Crude oil serious land logistics very limited capabilities
• The Schwedt pipeline example per Ref # 18 https://thesaker.is/germans-schwedt-hard-for-russian-oil/
(E) None (zero) refinery modifications planned for, coordinated, or made for new crude oil- refinement capabilities
* Please see Ref # 19 https://thesaker.is/for-europe-from-russia-with-love/
- European DEF shortage per the description above
- European diesel engine lube oil shortage per the description above
- European diesel fuel shortage affecting the distribution of diesel fuel per the description above
The process starts by defining the desired output, in this case with the focus on much-needed diesel fuel for all-around transportation and industrial machinery up and downstream of every sort which ends up governing everything else.
The process does NOT start by deciding to buy some whatever good or bad or intermediate quality oil at a “fair” price somewhere else wherever with whatever freight & delivery terms from whichever somebody you don´t even know yet. No, it doesn´t work that way. If skeptical, please ask other sources, and then understand, accept, and act accordingly.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “ Experience is an expensive school but fools will learn in no other”. That is humbly true.
what NOT to do
Reuters – “ France wants to replace Russian oil with oil from Venezuela and Iran ”. Really, do they? First of all, there is the very live and sensitive political memory both in Iran and Venezuela of years-long damaging sanctions and always constant Western aggressions, be it with Soleimani´s brutal in-your-face acknowledged assassination or Guaydo´s now supposed ownership of the Venezuelan gold vaulted in the Bank of England. But beyond the enormous geopolitical obstacles involved now even with Iran officially requesting admission into BRICS, the ignorant fools in charge should be whispered to in their ears that they will NEVER EVER distill the quality and amount of diesel that Europe requires from readily available either Venezuelan or Iranian oils. The reason is that both are heavy (or very heavy) and also ´sour´ meaning with relatively high sulfur content and are thusly very complicated to process into diesel, let alone by European refineries which simply can´t do it no matter what or how hard they try. Very exceptionally some very rare Iranian and Venezuelan blends could possibly be found to be somewhat better adapted to European needs. But the price of such would be ultra-high while constantly available volumes are ultra-low for European requirements or simply non-existent. In sum, not good, forget about those, please do not blow up the refineries (I kid you not) just stick to “the science” as Herr Habeck would have it, and for Heaven´s sake please do hurry up and stop proposing foolish ideas which you should know much better about.
Now please repeat out loud after me, word by word… refineries-are-pretty-much-built-and-later-matched-and-finely-tuned-for-the-feedstock-they-will-use-for-the-rest-of-their-useful-service-lives… and can only be tweaked so far to be able to use even a slightly different feedstock, let alone completely different crudes such as traditional Venezuelan or Iranian oils. That is the reason why crude oil procurement contracts are so difficult to agree upon with a humongous amount of lab data, tests all-around, back & forth, and highly intense negotiations (meaning lots of TIME) which also necessarily require the guarantee of decades-long constant-quality supply. Crude oil blends are always at least slightly different (possibly a lot) but are definitely never fungible, not interchangeable in any way, shape or form. European refineries were built, matched, and mated to the Russian Urals blend to which everybody has become used to in more than one way. Iranian and Venezuelan oils are perfectly good for refining very important petrochemical distillates but are mostly very different from those which Europe now needs. Instead, Europe needs massive amounts of high-quality diesel and they better have lots of it soon enough, or else… What part of this is so hard to understand?
So please stop the wishful-thinking dead in its tracks, right now. Please. Many hundreds of millions of people depend upon a correct judgment nowhere to be seen today. Time is of the essence and in more than one-way time is already up. Once that diesel is defined as the preferential output, then – and only then – you look for the right type of crude oil to be refined ( … not from Iran or Venezuela…) but always delivered in the agreed quality and quantities, means, and terms, including guarantees provided by the right type of reliable vendor. There is a whole LOT to unpack in that last sentence so do not breeze by it lightly. Rather stop and focus on the many key difficult features yet to be found for the Urals substitute which will not happen. It may though possibly be that several different blends are found from different vendors, not a single well-known reliable supplier as Russia, which would complicate the matter tremendously as it would not be a “universal” substitute, but rather many. And finally – and never ever before – all the European refineries would be modified according to a (1) “coordinated plan” which now does not exist and (2) per the specific crude oil to be refined which now does not exist and (3) with the due process for each and only one by one (which does not exist) one at a time, not all simultaneously throughout Europe as these fools have decided without even knowing yet the source crude oil(s) to be refined (!!!!). Do you now understand why I say that it´s impossible to make this stuff up?
the chicken and the egg
Despite being a clear priority, so far Europeans are acting as if they did not need diesel production as the main desired output of their refineries. Furthermore, the diesel portion extracted from any new non-Russian crude oil – if ever found in the right terms with the delivery of large and continuous quantities and quality – would never be identical to what the Urals blend renders today, no way. At any rate, if the already approved game plan is to change such Russian Urals blend, the modifications to all European refineries would have to be made necessarily after the new crude oil feedstock is precisely known and made available, not a second before. And after decades of constant only-Urals processing, the switchover to whatever is finally found – yet unknown, if ever – is unfathomable. The only way to do it is to close down the distillation process throughout Europe for months. And precisely who, how, and by when will keep on supplying the European market with the quantity and quality required by the all-important diesel and other distillate fuels and petrochemicals, huh? We need an answer for that right now, before messing things up forever, okay?
not a drill
I am listening but can´t hear a single sound, anyone and all please do respond. This is for real, not a drill. If you don´t have the answer to the above question, come December 2022 — unless EU politicians backtrack with a humiliating 180 rewind, something which is definitely in the cards — supposedly the seaborne Russian Urals blend will be fully banned from Europe, meaning that a different non-Russian blend would be its substitute. But until a definition of such is made, nothing can be done, no plans, no bids, no contracts, no modifications, no calibration, no fine-tuning, no certification, no permitting, no commissioning, nothing. And whenever it is finally known, the switch-over sequence will be the hardest trick on planet Earth. The only known procedure is to very gradually stop the inflow of Urals (which takes time) and slowly “purge” the system, then shut down the refineries (not easy to do and yet more time) but always having ready at hand the continuous feed of the new (but yet-unknown) batch-delivered crude oil substitute right there and then – and only then — start with operational trials after lots of lab tests and back & forth until finally the bosses – not technical folks, but the political bosses — feel ´comfortable´ ( I did not say ´sure´) to re-start operations with the traditional comings and goings and – quite frankly – just see what the hell happens until the refinery achieves cruising speed, if ever, and then lock on the operating parameters. A very messy and risky experiment done simultaneously throughout all of Europe´s refineries … and winter is coming… And please do not blow up several European refineries in the process, I beg you because that would perpetuate the problem pretty much forever. Only harebrained fools can plan for this, but the price will still be paid by all Europeans, not only by two German Greens.
Slightly off-topic ( still very much EU energy-related ) per the Financial Times the UK has warned that, if push ever got to shove, it would shut down its nat-gas supply pipeline to Europe. Yes, it will. Meanwhile, a fully unsubstantiated report from Fitch without any details whatsoever, concludes that “it could take the EU more than three years to offset a full loss of Russian gas supply”. No kidding Fitch. How about never ever as it´d had to be mainly through non-existent LNG terminals and non-existent supplies plus hundreds of un-existent pipelines and lots of additional land-logistical infrastructure. And just from where exactly would Europe find the nat-gas required to survive during such “three years or more“? Are only harebrained ´experts´ available or shall we ever get any no-nonsense reporting from the West?