Natural gas and national interest

14:25 16.08.2021 • Alexander Sheffner , expert of International institute for Political Information

We do not think about where it comes from, or who gets it. All we care about is how much it costs and that the heat that it gives never ends. Some people do care about what kind of natural gas his or her stove is running on though. The truth is natural gas can burn in different ways and either bring the warmth of freedom, or the searing heat of tyranny. Food cooked with such gas and the air heated by it are poisoned by propaganda.

Sounds scary? No! But it should! After all, how else to explain why give up cheaper and more environmentally friendly Russian natural gas in favor of liquefied gas from America? We’ll try, though.

Hiding behind any good intention by politicians are always the interests of their sponsors.

Politicians are people, just like everyone else. They want to eat well and sleep well. And the leader of the New Conservatives Janis Bordaens and his fellow party member Gatis Eglitis want this too.

To find money for dolce vita they headed to the stronghold of democracy, and in the state of Texas they found the benefactor they were looking for.

Introducing Peteris Alois Ragaus. Who is he? An Honorary Consul of Latvia, but this is irrelevant. What is more important to us, however, is that he has spent his whole life working in the US oil and gas industry, and is perfectly familiar with the political elite of Latvia. Wholeheartedly embracing (as it were) the ideology of new conservatism, and by no means guided by self-interest, this gentleman forked out the money these two Latvian guys had come for. Enlisting the help of their Texan benefactor, the new conservatives secured government posts. It just so happened that this Texan cowboy is the beneficiary of the LNG Terminal project at Skulte.

And so the idea of ​​building a Terminal for transshipment of liquefied gas quickly became a government priority. Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevich declares the Skulte port terminal a project of national significance. Well, when it comes to national interests, who cares about the lack of any public discussion over the need for both the terminal itself and where it is going to be built?  When it comes down to national interests, you can jack up utility bills and build a gas pipeline in a protected area.Generally speaking, you can do a lot of things when you have a client. And we already know the name of one such client. And there is another one.

The Skulte LNG Terminal was founded in 2016.Seventeen percent of the terminal belongs to the aforementioned Peter A. Ragauss, and 83 percent - to a certain entity proudly called Nacionālā gāzes termināļa biedrīb (National Society of Gas Terminals), founded in 2013 by someone who goes under the name of Gatis Ābele.By sheer coincidence, since 2016, he has been the head of Sabiedrisko pakalpojumu regulēšanas komisija, the government utility tariff regulator. All we know about the activities of Nacionālā gāzes termināļa biedrīb (National Society of Gas Terminals) is that, according to available information, it is run by Anfins Unums – a citizen of Norway, a project manager of the international company BW Maritime, the largest carrier of liquefied natural gas and operator of LNG Terminals.

This very same gentleman is listed as one of the project beneficiaries at Skulte. So we can see the general outlines of the gas carve-up.

Government

It provides financing for the project from EU funds and the Three Seas Foundation.The guarantee of the project's profitability will be provided by the price regulator through higher utility tariffs.

Beneficiaries

Ensure the supply of liquefied gas and distribute profits between concession participants. Everyone wins. And what about Latvian citizens? Activists have filed a petition against the construction of a terminal at Skulte. To be considered by the national parliament, it needs 10,000 signatures. But what do 10,000 signatures of ordinary people mean compared to the national interests of Latvia?

Instead of discussing the project, the government invites citizens to cough up money for the sake of national interests and those of the people we already know.

 

The author's opinion may not coincide with the opinion of the editorial board