• Russian Energy Giant Hires D.C. Lobbyists To Target U.S. Natural Gas Exports

    Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer has hired a U.S. lobbying firm to target economic sanctions and liquefied natural gas terminal permitting.

    Disclosure filings show that OAO Novatek, Russia’s second-largest gas company, hired the Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Qorvis MSL LLC to pressure Congress and the White House on economic sanctions targeting Russian energy producers and a bill dealing with natural gas exports. The D.C.-based lobbying firm has a long list of clients, including Saudi Arabia, the government of Kurdistan, Bahrain and Cyprus.

    Specifically, Qorvis was hired by Novatek to target the Senate’s Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, President Obama’s Executive Order 13662 and “issues of concern regarding credit financing; global energy markets.”

    The Senate’s Russian Aggression Prevention Act would “impose tough sanctions and boost U.S. security aid to eastern Europe (among many other provisions),” according to National Journal. But the bill also amends the “Natural Gas Act to apply the expedited application and approval process for natural gas exports to World Trade Organization members.” This would speed up the process of allowing U.S. companies to ship natural gas to European nations, including Ukraine.

    Novatek is considered as an independent natural gas producer, but the company is partly-owned by Russia’s largest natural gas producer Gazprom — a state-owned entity. Gazprom has a monopoly on Russian gas exports and high prices for European countries to import its fuel.

    Republicans and some Democrats have been aggressively pushing the Obama administration to speed up approvals of liquefied natural gas export terminals in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine.

    Energy analysts and national security experts have long note Russia’s interest in keeping U.S. natural gas exports off the international scene, which would lead to increased competition and possibly lower future gas prices that would cut Russian profits.

    The Energy Information Administration estimates that 68 percent of Russia’s total export value comes from oil and gas sales. It has also been noted that such sales make up about 40 percent of the Russian government’s budget.

    About a third of Europe’s natural gas supply comes from Russia, a development not seen as truly problematic by politicians until President Vladimir Putin began threatening once again to shut off gas supplies to Ukraine — about 16 percent of Europe’s gas supply flows through Ukrainian pipelines.

    It has even been asserted by NATO officials that Russian interests are backing environmental movements in Europe to undermine efforts to increase oil and gas production through hydraulic fracturing.

    “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in late June.

    Qorvis did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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