On the 29th of May, 21,000 m3 of diesel oil spilled in Russian town Norilsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai) from a fuel storage tank. Nornickel company claimed that the melting of permafrost on which the tank was built resulted in the accident. The oil contaminated an area of more than 350 square kilometres, including the Daldykan and the Ambarnaya rivers – one of the largest oil spill disasters in the world. For first 2 days after the spillage occurred, the authorities did not take any action before the mass and social media started to talk about the disaster. On the 3d of June, the accident was proclaimed a federal-level emergency.
This morning Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen gave his comments on the situation at the Ykkösaamu programme. To learn more about the disaster, listen to the discussion with Professor Tynkkynen and Kirsten Jörgensen, leading researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute, starting from 59:49 at Yle Areena.
Crashing oil prices are one of the most discussed topics these days, and many try to understand why does it happen and what are the effects. To Russia, that is largely dependent on high oil prices, the current situation is especially worrisome. The solid prices are the lowest in 20 years (and on Monday American WTI oil even had a negative price of -37 US dollars), and the ruble has been dropping for more than a month now, and the coronavirus outbreak does not help the economy either. Professor Tynkkynen has been approached by several media outlets to comment on the recent developments, and here we have collected his interviews.
Firstly, Professor Tynkkynen appeared today in the Ykkösaamu programme on Yle Radio 1, the interview starts at 52:41.
Secondly, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s comments can be read in today’s Kauppalehti article, titled “Kaoottinen öljymarkkina iskee rumasti” (The chaotic oil market lunges nastily). For instance, talking about Brent’s price decline, Professor Tynkkynen said
that oil will be bringing tax rubles to President Vladimir Putin’s government as long as the price remains above $ 15 a barrel. If the price falls below $ 15, the Russian economic crisis will worsen.
Thirdly, Professor Tynkkynen’s comments on Russian National Wealth Fund can be found in the MTV news. This fund accumulated extra oil and gas revenues for 12 years, now has more than 120 billion US dollars and in theory, can be used for supporting Russian citizens during these difficult times. However, as Professor Tynkkynen states
– There are significant buffer funds in Russia. It is a fact that in recent decades, public investment has not gone to the social and health sectors but to the energy sector and the construction of military equipment How Russia can take care of the well-being of its citizens is a big social question, Tynkkynen says.
If Russia’s social- and healthcare cannot withstand the corona pandemic, the people may be even more angry at their government.
– In recent days, there has been criticism of the Putin administration in the Russian media. Even in the media, which has been very sympathetic to the administration, there is criticism of the fact that in recent decades Russia has invested in supporting the fossil energy sector and building security and military equipment, and not in improving the social and health sectors, Tynkkynen says.
While all the world is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the oil market is not an exception. The prices have been plummeting since March, when Saudi Arabia and Russia engaged in the oil price war. YLE tried to explain what is going on now with the oil market and published an article “Pandemia iski myös öljymarkkinoille: Sekoitti Venäjän ja Saudi-Arabian hintasodan kortit” (The pandemic hit also the oil market: Shuffled Russian and Saudi price war cards). Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen commented on the issue for the article:
So is there a solution to the price war in the midst of the coronavirus crisis?
– Time will show it. We have seen the co-operation between Opec and Russia in recent years, says Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor in Russian Environmental Studies at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki.
He believes that Russia is at a disadvantegous position in this contention.
– If we look at the drop in the price of oil, Russia’s Urals brand has decline the most. With this price of oil, Saudi Arabia is still able to generate profits for itself, unlike Russia, where production costs are starting to be higher than the current barrel price for Urals brand.
Read this and other insights in the article online.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen provided comments on the recent oil price collapse due to the Opec deal collapse for the article titled “Venäjä raottaa ovea yhteistyölle Opecin kanssa – hintasodassa liennytyksen merkkejä” (Russia is opening the door to cooperation with OPEC – signs of détente in the price war).
The oil price war that started over the weekend showed signs of easing on Tuesday, as Russia announced its readiness to resume cooperation with Opec, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki, who researches Russia’s energy policy, estimates that Russia’s decision to secede production cuts may be based on Russia’s desire to show its power to Opec.
Although Russia has blustered to cope with low oil prices for years, its economy is still completely dependent on oil.
Talouselämä published a review on Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s latest book “The Energy of Russia. Hydrocarbon Culture and Climate Change”. The review, titled “Kirjat: Onko Venäjällä toivoa muutoksesta? Energia on Putinin samettinen rautahanska” (Books: Is there hope for change in Russia? Energy is Putin’s velvet iron glove), is written by Matti Kankare and is available for Talouselämä subscribers.
Last Friday you could have caught Dr. Sanna Kopra on Yle on Marja Sarikka’s show. Sanna was interviewed in the episode “Suomen ilmastoteot ovat yhtä tyhjän kanssa” (Finland’s climate actions are equal to nothing), Dr. Kopra spoke about China’s climate policy.
The interview starts at approximately 22nd minute.
Uusi Suomi published an article titled “”Kuolevaan teollisuudenalaan takertuva Venäjä on vaarallinen Venäjä” – Professori: Putin tarrautuu ilmastodenialismiin ja fossiilisiin turvatakseen valtansa” (“Russia clinging to a dying industry is a dangerous Russia” – Professor: Putin clings to climate-denialism and fossils to secure his power). The article is available for subscribers via this link.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen provided his comments for the new article “Venäjän ja Turkin presidentit vihkivät Mustanmeren pohjassa kulkevan kaasuputken” (Russian and Turkish presidents launched passing through the Black Sea bottom gas pipeline), published in Ilta-Sanomat on 8th of January. Professor Tynkkynen says that the new Turkstream pipeline is a significant step towards Russia’s long-term strategic objective of circumventing Ukraine when supplying gas to Europe.
This week, on 17th of January, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen will present his new book “The Energy of Russia” at Tiedekulma. Helsinki University website published an interview with Professor Tynkkynen “Venäjän hiilivetykulttuuri ja avaimet sen purkamiseen” (Russian hydrocarbon culture and the keys to its dismantling), where the readers can learn more about the book and its premise.
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen’s work “Energy of Russia. Hydrocarbon Culture and Climate Change ”, published in December 2019, is a clear and comprehensive presentation of Russia’s energy policy and its deep links to domestic and foreign policy as well as to Russian identity. The book is particularly valuable because, in addition to presenting the problems, it also offers concrete solutions. There are no easy solutions, but Tynkkynen still encourages trying.
Russia could produce all the energy it needs via renewable energy sources. There are so many areas in a large country ideal for solar power plants, wind farms and hydropower, that there would be plenty of energy to export. Technology is available, and the growing concerns of Russians about both global climate change and local environmental problems are putting pressure on the transition to cleaner energy production. Why doesn’t something happen, though?
– It is unnecessarily pessimistic to say that nothing would happen, comforts Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Associate Professor of Russian Environmental Studies There are projects in Russia, for example, aimed at increasing the utilization of wind power. Having said that, however, it must be pointed that while the projects, in absolute terms, may be large, they are mostly cosmetic in the scale of Russian energy production. Russia is helplessly behind the rest of the world, especially the EU, the US and China.