head-spinning energy bills this winter ratcheted up this week after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, declared it would not resume the flow of natural gas through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline until Europe lifted Ukraine-related sanctions.

Daily average electricity prices in Western Europe have reached record levels, according to Rystad Energy, surging past 600 euros ($599) per megawatt-hour in Germany and €700 in France, with peak-hour rates as high as €1,500.

In the Czech Republic, roughly 70,000 angry protesters, many with links to far-right groups, gathered in Wenceslas Square in Prague this past weekend to demonstrate against soaring energy bills.

The German, French and Finnish governments have already stepped in to save domestic power companies from bankruptcy. Even so, Uniper, which is based in Germany and one of Europe’s largest natural gas buyers and suppliers, said last week that it was losing more than €100 million a day because of the rise in prices.

International Monetary Fund this week to issue a proposal to reform the European Union’s framework for government public spending and deficits.

caps blunt the incentive to reduce energy consumption — the chief goal in a world of shortages.

Central banks in the West are expected to keep raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and force down inflation. On Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by three-quarters of a point, matching its biggest increase ever. The U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to do the same when it meets this month. The Bank of England has taken a similar position.

The worry is that the vigorous push to bring down prices will plunge economies into recessions. Higher interest rates alone won’t bring down the price of oil and gas — except by crashing economies so much that demand is severely reduced. Many analysts are already predicting a recession in Germany, Italy and the rest of the eurozone before the end of the year. For poor and emerging countries, higher interest rates mean more debt and less money to spend on the most vulnerable.

“I think we’re living through the biggest development disaster in history, with more people being pushed more quickly into dire poverty than has every happened before,” said Mr. Goldin, the Oxford professor. “It’s a particularly perilous time for the world economy.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Kyiv claims battlefield gains as Russian gas shutdown hits Europe markets

  • Zaporizhzhia plant cut from grid but operating safely -IAEA
  • Zelenskiy warns of near nuclear “catastrophe” day before report
  • Kyiv cites battlefield gains, including Kherson province town
  • European markets hit hard by closure of Russian gas pipeline

KYIV, Sept. 5 (Reuters) – Power at a critical nuclear plant in Ukraine was all but cut off on Monday for the second time in two weeks as Kyiv accused Moscow of pushing the war to the brink of nuclear catastrophe, one day before the U.N. nuclear watchdog was due to issue an assessment of the Zaporizhzhia power station. .

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of risking catastrophe by shelling near the plant, which officials said disrupted power lines and taken the sole remaining reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear plant offline.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, citing information supplied from Ukraine, said the plant’s backup power line had been cut to extinguish a fire but that the line itself was not damaged and would be reconnected.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The plant has enough electricity to operate safely and will be reconnected to the grid once the backup power is restored, the watchdog agency said in a statement before releasing its full findings in a fuller report on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday warned of a near “radiation catastrophe” and said the shelling showed Russia “does not care what the IAEA will say.”

“Again – already for the second time – because of Russian provocation, the Zaporizhzhia station was placed one step away from a radiation catastrophe,” he said in his nightly video message.

The nuclear concerns add to the ongoing energy fight between Moscow and the West since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in late February as the larger military conflict continues.

European markets on Monday went into free-fall as Russia kept its main gas pipeline to Germany shut. Meanwhile, Kyiv made its boldest claim yet of success on the battlefield in its week-old counter-offensive against Russian forces in the south.

The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine has become a focal point of the six-month conflict after Moscow took control of the facility in March, even as Ukrainian engineers continue to operate it, raising the spectre of a nuclear accident.

Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said the plant’s last working reactor block was disconnected from Ukraine’s grid after Russian shelling disrupted power lines.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed official in Zaporizhzhia region, said Ukrainian shelling had damaged a containment vessel next to the second reactor but its operation was unaffected.

Following days of silence about their new offensive, Ukrainian officials posted an image online of three soldiers raising a flag over a town in Kherson province, a southern region occupied by Russia since the war’s early days.

The image of the flag being fixed to a pole on a rooftop, purportedly in Vysokopyllya in the north of Kherson, was released as Zelenskiy on Sunday announced Ukrainian forces had captured two towns in the south and one in the east without identifying them.

COUNTER-ATTACK

After months of enduring punishing Russian artillery assaults in the east, Ukraine has at last begun its long-awaited counter-attack, its biggest since it repelled Russian forces from the outskirts of Kyiv in March.

Ukraine had kept most details of its new campaign under wraps, banning journalists from the frontline and offering little public commentary in order to preserve tactical surprise.

Russia has said it pushed back assaults in Kherson, but in a rare acknowledgment of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, TASS news agency quoted a Moscow-installed official in the region as saying plans for a referendum on joining Russia had been put on hold due to the security situation.

In a Monday evening update, the Ukrainian general staff said its forces had driven back Russian forces in an unspecified area near Kramatorsk – a key town in eastern Donetsk region – while Russian forces had shelled about a dozen towns in the south.

Still, Zelenskiy has warned European countries that they could face a cold winter.

On Monday evening, a missile strike by Russian forces destroyed an oil depot in Kryvorizsky district in Dnipropetrovsk region, emergency authorities in the area said on Facebook following earlier nearby Russian missile strikes.

BLEAK WINTER

Moscow blames disruption to equipment repairs and maintenance caused by Western sanctions for its halt to the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1, its main pipeline to Germany. Russia was due to reopen the pipeline on Saturday but is now shut indefinitely.

“Problems with gas supply arose because of the sanctions imposed on our country by Western states, including Germany and Britain,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Europe and the United States say Russia is using energy as a weapon but add they are collaborating to ensure supplies. read more

European countries have also rolled out billions of euros in aid that last week helped drive European gas prices back down sharply from record highs.

But the weekend news about Nord Stream’s extended shutdown sent prices soaring once again on Monday, with the main European benchmark up by more than 35%, bringing fears of a bleak winter for consumers and businesses across the continent.

Germany’s DAX share index was down well over 2%, the Euro sank below 99 U.S. cents for the first time in decades, and the pound was not far off mid-1980s lows against the dollar as Liz Truss was announced as Britain’s next prime minister.

Russia’s Peskov vowed retaliation for the latest Western move aimed at capping the price of Russian oil exports from December designed to reduce Moscow’s main source of income.

In Russia, which has effectively banned independent media since President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” Feb. 24, a judge on Monday revoked the license of liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, one of the last unofficial voices. read more

The ruling was “a political hit job, without the slightest legal basis”, said its editor, Dmitry Muratov, who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for the paper’s fight for free speech.

A Russian court also sentenced a former journalist to 22 years in prison for treason after prosecutors said he disclosed state secrets. His supporters say the case is retribution for him exposing details of Russia’s international arms deals.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Max Hunder and Ron Popeski; writing by Peter Graff, Philippa Fletcher and Susan Heavey; editing by Tomasz Janowski and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Sept 10 (Reuters) – Moscow has abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine, a sudden apparent collapse of one of the war’s principal front lines after Ukrainian forces moved to encircle the area in a shock advance. read more

FIGHTING

* The state-run TASS news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying it had ordered troops to leave the area around the city of Izium in Kharkiv province, saying they would be sent to reinforce operations elsewhere in neighbouring Donetsk.

* The announcement came hours after rapidly advancing Ukrainian troops captured the city of Kupiansk, the sole railway hub supplying Russia’s entire frontline across northeastern Ukraine, cutting thousands of Russian troops off from supplies.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

* A Reuters journalist inside a vast area recaptured in recent days by the advancing Ukrainian forces saw Ukrainian police patrolling towns and boxes of ammunition lying in heaps at positions abandoned by fleeing Russian soldiers.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its air forces destroyed a Ukrainian radar tracking station the southern Mykolaiv region and six weapon and missile depots in eastern and southeastern areas, TASS reported.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

QUOTES

* Mark Hertling, a retired four-star general and former commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe: “Make no mistake, (Ukraine) is executing a brilliant maneuver focused on terrain objectives to ‘bag’ Russians. But the Russians are helping them – by doing very little to counter.”

* Russia’s defence ministry on TASS: “To achieve the stated goals of the Special Military Operation for the liberation of Donbas, it was decided to regroup the Russian troops located in the districts of Balakliia and Izium for the purpose of increasing efforts in the Donetsk direction.”

NUCLEAR

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, calling for it to be “demilitarized”.

* Shelling has destroyed power infrastructure in the city of Enerhodar where staff operating Zaporizhzhia live, posing a growing threat to the plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday. read more

ENERGY

* European Union energy ministers on Friday gave the European Commission the task of pressing ahead with a cap on the revenues of non-gas power producers benefiting from soaring energy prices, while backing away from capping Russian gas prices. read more

GRAIN

* Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday a deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea is being fulfilled “badly” and its extension, due in late November, will depend on how it is implemented, RIA reported. read more

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Compiled by Grant McCool, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

OPEC+ to weigh rollover or small cut at Monday meeting, sources say

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals!<<<<

The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is pictured at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

  • Supply will be cut by 0.1 mln bpd from Oct
  • Iran nuclear deal could boost oil supply
  • Russia’s gas supplies to Europe cut further
  • Brent crude falls to $96 from $120 in June

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) – OPEC and its allies led by Russia on Monday agreed a small oil production cut to bolster prices that have slid on fears of an economic slowdown.

The oil producers will cut output by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), amounting to only 0.1% of global demand, for October. They also agreed that OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia could call an extraordinary meeting anytime if volatility persists. read more

The decision essentially maintains the status quo as OPEC has been observing wild fluctuations in oil prices.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

“OPEC+ is wary of protracted price volatility generated by weak macro sentiment, thin liquidity and renewed China lockdowns, as well as uncertainty over a potential U.S.–Iran deal and efforts to create a Russian oil price cap,” said Matthew Holland at Energy Aspects.

Top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia last month flagged the possibility of output cuts to address what it sees as exaggerated oil price movements. read more

Benchmark Brent crude oil has dropped to about $95 a barrel from $120 in June on fears of an economic slowdown and recession in the West.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Monday the OPEC+ oil output cut was merely a reflection of expectations of a weaker global economic growth.

Oil prices have been also dragged down by a potential supply boost from Iranian crude returning to the market if Tehran is able to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with global powers.

“The political angle, it seems, is a Saudi message to the U.S. about the revival of the Iranian nuclear agreement … It is hard to interpret the decision as anything but price supportive,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

Iran is expected to add 1 million bpd to supply, or 1% of global demand, if sanctions are eased, though the prospects for a nuclear deal looked less clear on Friday. read more

The White House said on Monday U.S. President Joe Biden was committed to take all steps necessary to shore up energy supplies and lower prices.

“The cut suggests that there is a desire to defend oil prices to stay above the level of $90 per barrel,” said Giovanni Staunovo at UBS.

Raad AlKadiri at Eurasia Group said: “It is a signal of intent … The decision to cut reinforces that ‘do not take us for granted’ message without doing anything drastic.”

Signals from the physical market, however, suggest supply remains tight and many OPEC states are producing below targets while fresh Western sanctions are threatening Russian exports.

Russia has said it will stop supplying oil to countries that support the idea of capping the price of Russian energy supplies over its military conflict in Ukraine.

Russia’s gas deliveries in Europe, meanwhile, have been cut further, which is likely to spark more price spikes. read more

“An output cut won’t make them any friends at a time when the world is facing a cost-of-living crisis,” said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Additional reporting by Rowena Edwards and Olesya Astakhova
Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov
Editing by David Goodman and David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

High Seas Deception: How Shady Ships Use GPS to Evade International Law

The scrappy oil tanker waited to load fuel at a dilapidated jetty projecting from a giant Venezuelan refinery on a December morning. A string of abandoned ships listed in the surrounding turquoise Caribbean waters, a testament to the country’s decay after years of economic hardships and U.S. sanctions.

Yet, on computer screens, the ship — called Reliable — appeared nearly 300 nautical miles away, drifting innocuously off the coast of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. According to Reliable’s satellite location transmissions, the ship had not been to Venezuela in at least a decade.

Shipping data researchers have identified hundreds of cases like Reliable, where a ship has transmitted fake location coordinates in order to carry out murky and even illegal business operations and circumvent international laws and sanctions.

maritime resolution signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015, all large ships must carry and operate satellite transponders, known as automatic identification systems, or AIS, which transmit a ship’s identification and navigational positional data. The resolution’s signatories, which include practically all seafaring nations, are obligated under the U.N. rules to enforce these guidelines within their jurisdictions.

sophisticated examples of AIS manipulation, officials said, and the country goes to great lengths to conceal the illegal activities of its large fishing industry.

Windward is one of the main companies that provide shipping industry data to international organizations, governments and financial institutions — including the United Nations, U.S. government agencies and banks like HSBC, Société Générale and Danske Bank. At least one client, the U.N. Security Council body that monitors North Korea’s sanctions compliance, has used Windward’s data to identify ships that breach international laws.

reported an increase in cases of AIS manipulation and jamming in the Black Sea, coinciding with U.S. and Ukrainian claims that Russia was trying to hide its oil exports and smuggle stolen Ukrainian grain.

many of the same ships have recently started trading Venezuelan oil that is under U.S. sanctions.

The spread of AIS manipulation by E.U.-registered vessels shows how advances in technology allow some shipowners to earn windfall profits from commodities under sanction while benefiting from European financial services and legal safeguards.

Cyprus’s deputy shipping minister, Vassilios Demetriades, said illegal manipulation of on-ship equipment is punishable by fines or criminal penalties under the island’s laws. But he has downplayed the problem, saying AIS’s “value and trustworthiness as a location device is rather limited.”

According to Cyprus’s corporate documents, Reliable belongs to a company owned by Christos Georgantzoglou, 81, a Greek businessman. The ship crossed the Atlantic for the first time shortly after Mr. Georgantzoglou’s company bought it last year, and has transmitted locations around eastern Caribbean Islands since, according to Windward’s analysis.

But Venezuela’s state oil company records reviewed by The New York Times show that Reliable was working for the Venezuelan government in the country during that time.

Mr. Georgantzoglou and his company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Their Venezuelan dealings appear to contradict a promise made by Greece’s powerful shipowners association in 2020 to stop transporting the country’s oil. The association did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Reliable is still moving fuel around Venezuelan ports or loading crude onto Asia-bound ships in open waters to hide its origin, according to two Venezuelan oil businessmen, who asked not to be named for security reasons. It still broadcasts coordinates of a ship adrift in the Caribbean Sea.

Adriana Loureiro Fernandez and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

UN: U.S. Buying Big Ukraine Grain Shipment For Hungry Regions

The shipment is one of several the U.N. agency that fights hunger is pursuing.

The United States is stepping up to buy about 150,000 metric tons of grain from Ukraine in the next few weeks for an upcoming shipment of food aid from ports no longer blockaded by war, the World Food Program chief has told The Associated Press.

The final destinations for the grain are not confirmed and discussions continue, David Beasley said. But the planned shipment, one of several the U.N. agency that fights hunger is pursuing, is more than six times the amount of grain that the first WFP-arranged ship from Ukraine is now carrying toward people in the Horn of Africa at risk of starvation.

Beasley spoke Friday from northern Kenya, which is deep in a drought that is withering the Horn of Africa region. He sat under a thorn tree among local women who told the AP that the last time it rained was in 2019.

Their bone-dry communities face yet another failed rainy season within weeks that could tip parts of the region, especially neighboring Somalia, into famine. Already, thousands of people have died. The World Food Program says 22 million people are hungry.

“I think there’s a high probability we’ll have a declaration of famine” in the coming weeks, Beasley said.

He called the situation facing the Horn of Africa a “perfect storm on top of a perfect storm, a tsunami on top of a tsunami” as the drought-prone region struggles to cope amid high food and fuel prices driven partly by the war in Ukraine.

The keenly awaited first aid ship from Ukraine is carrying 23,000 metric tons of grain, enough to feed 1.5 million people on full rations for a month, Beasley said. It is expected to dock in Djibouti on Aug. 26 or 27, and the wheat is supposed to be shipped overland to northern Ethiopia, where millions of people in the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions have faced not only drought but deadly conflict.

Ukraine was the source of half the grain that WFP bought last year to feed 130 million hungry people. Russia and Ukraine signed agreements with the U.N. and the Turkish government last month to enable exports of Ukrainian grain for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February.

But the slow reopening of Ukraine’s ports and the cautious movement of cargo ships across the mined Black Sea won’t solve the global food security crisis, Beasley said. He warned that richer countries must do much more to keep grain and other assistance flowing to the hungriest parts of the world, and he named names.

“With oil profits being so high right now — record-breaking profits, billions of dollars every week — … the Gulf states need to help, need to step up and do it now,” Beasley said. “It’s inexcusable not to. Particularly since these are their neighbors, these are their brothers, their family.”

He asserted the World Food Program could save “millions of lives” with just one day of Gulf countries’ oil profits.

China needs to help as well, Beasley said.

“China’s the second-largest economy in the world, and we get diddly-squat from China,” or very little, he added.

Despite grain leaving Ukraine and hopes rising of global markets beginning to stabilize, the world’s most vulnerable people face a long, difficult recovery, the WFP chief said.

“Even if this drought ends, we’re talking about a global food crisis at least for another 12 months,” Beasley said. “But in terms of the poorest of the poor, it’s gonna take several years to come out of this.”

Some of the world’s poorest people without enough food are in northern Kenya, where animal carcasses are slowly stripped to the bone beneath an ungenerous sky. Millions of livestock, the source of families’ wealth and nutrition, have died in the drought. Many water pumps have gone dry. More and more thousands of children are malnourished.

“Don’t forget us,” resident Hasan Mohamud told Beasley. “Even the camels have disappeared. Even the donkeys have succumbed.”

With so many in need, aid that does arrive can disappear like a raindrop in the sand. Local women who qualified for WFP cash handouts described taking the 6,500 shillings (about $54) and sharing it among their neighbors — in one case, 10 households.

“The most interesting thing we hear is people saying, ‘We’re not the only ones,'” WFP program officer Felix Okech told the AP. “‘We’re the ones who have been selected (for handouts), but there are many more like us.’ So that is very humbling to hear.”

In a small crowd that had gathered to listen to stories of children too weak to stand and milk gone dry, one woman at the edge of the woven plastic mat spoke up. Sahara Abdilleh, 50, said she makes perhaps 1,000 shillings ($8.30) a week from gathering firewood, scouring a landscape that gives less and less back every day. Like Beasley, she was thinking globally.

“Is there any country, like Afghanistan or Ukraine, that is worse off than us?” she asked.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<