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This morning, I had an email from a correspondent in the Emirates outlining a perspective on the great tragedy in the loss of the entire public leadership echelon of Poland in the crash of a Russian airliner.  It's a perspective.  I read it several times to see if it qualifies as conspiracy theory (God forbid!) but I don't think it is.  I think it is a perspective on an issue that will be of increasing importance in the global oil calculation.  As he said in his introduction ... Walk with us ...

2005 Russia proposes Nordstream, a gas line directly into the EU markets.

"The new gas pipeline is very important in terms of meeting the increasing natural gas demand in the European gas market. Gas imports to the EU countries are anticipated to grow in the nearest decade by nearly 200 bcm, or more than 50 per cent. Due to a direct connection between the world’s largest gas reserves located in Russia and the European gas transmission system, Nord Stream will be able to satisfy circa 25 per cent of the foregoing extra demand for imported gas.

There are no transit countries on Nord Stream’s route, which enables to reduce Russian gas transmission costs and exclude any possible political risks. Nord Stream will provide the most reliable gas deliveries to customers in Western Europe."

Because of the geographical bypass and strong potential to gouge prices, Poland is the staunchest opposition to the Nordstream pipeline from the beginning.

From the NY TIMES, 2005 ...

" Moving to bolster its energy security, Poland is set to become the first East European country to try to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas imports by increasing its sources, according to government officials involved in Poland’s energy sector.

The reason why Poland wants to diversify its gas imports is not just because of the rising prices. Polish officials said the country’s newly elected conservative government believes that President Vladimir Putin of Russia is using his country’s vast energy reserves to exert influence in the region. Gazprom, for example, has spent the past few years buying gas distribution companies and terminals throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltic states to control prices and gain direct access to the energy markets of countries that joined the European Union in 2004."

The Polish in union with other regional countries, came close to shutting it down in 2008

"FRANKFURT (Thomson Financial) – The financing of the 5 bln eur Nord Stream project is on the brink of collapsing, as the European Investment Bank (EIB) is unlikely to have a political majority to finance the Baltic Sea gas pipeline, Die Welt reported.

The newspaper quoted Polish economy minister Waldemar Pawlak saying that a public financing is unthinkable as besides Poland, ’several countries’ oppose it.

EIB planned to finance some 50 pct of the pipeline’s costs with a low-interest loan, but needs a political agreement between the European Union’s 27 member states on the financing."

There is a lot of money on the table, and [our correspondent] understands that cash rules everything, and so the Nordstream pipeline continues to clear the hurdles that are always around projects like this. Then on the 2nd of March, 2010:

"In a Securities and Exchange disclosure from last Thursday Chevron confirmed that it won new rights to explore Poland for potential shale gas, although the size of the acreage was not divulged. Noted in the annual report, Chevron has acquired rights to explore for natural gas in the Grabowiec concession, located in the southeastern part of Poland.

The confirmation follows Chevron’s announcement in December that the company was awarded three five-year exploration licenses for the Zwierzyniec, Kransnik and Frampol concessions, also located in Poland, to explore for unconventional gas resources, Dow Jones reported.

In December 2009, the Environment Ministry of Poland granted Chevron permission to carry out seismic studies and exploratory drilling up to 3,500 meters underground, as well as to develop shale gas resources.

Keep in mind that Chevron isn’t alone in Poland. Exxon, Conoco, and Marathon are there as well investigating shale’s potential. Which means that Polish shale is likely chock full of gas.

"This is getting too big to ignore. One company takes a gamble, two might be foolish, three might simultaneously jump on a band wagon and drive off a cliff. But there is a critical mass of companies in Poland. Something is going on, and it’s unlikely that many companies will be wrong all at the same time."

The consequence of these discoveries are devastating to the Russian monopoly on gas delivery, especially considering the economies of scale required to realize the desired profits on the nordstream project. Construction starts on April 9th 2010.

"PORTOVAYA BAY, Russia, April 9 (UPI) — Construction of the controversial Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea has officially started. (Note: See the video on You Tube at this URL: Nord Stream Pipeline .)

Portovaya Bay in Russia has surely never seen so many VIPs. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the European Union’s Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder all traveled to this sea port near the Finnish border to attend Friday’s ceremony launching the construction of Nord Stream.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the ceremony called Nord Stream, which will cost $10 billion, a "contribution to Europe’s energy security."

Moscow has long lobbied for the project. The pipeline was designed to bypass transit countries in Eastern and Central Europe."


CONCLUSION: This is a great loss for the people of Poland.  The possibility of foul play is perhaps clouded by the poor history of the aircraft, but the grasping for carbon fuels has led to such deeds in the past.  So there is history there as well.

Originally posted to bob in ny on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 07:27 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    gfv6800, nickajak scalawag, Olympia
    Hidden by:

    Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

    by bob in ny on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 07:27:24 AM PDT

  •  More likely that is was just a hotshot pilot... (8+ / 0-)

    who thought he was so good that he could blow off the requests of air traffic controllers to divert to a safer airport to avoid horrible weather conditions.

    Groucho Marx sings the new GOP motto: I'm Against It!

    by Jimdotz on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 07:37:16 AM PDT

  •  All the info points to pilot error! n/t (6+ / 0-)

    My name is not Joe, and my head isn't pineapple-shaped!

    by pineapple head joe on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 07:38:31 AM PDT

  •  And another CT is born (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, Kingsmeg, GlowNZ, Olympia

    by lots of research of two totally unlinked events that happen close together and the author suggesting a link using CAPS LOCK.

    Just suggesting, mind you.

    •  I really, really do not want to believe that this (0+ / 0-)

      was a conspiracy theory.  Leaders of the world have security and I do not think it likely that anyone would have gotten close enough to that plane to tamper with it.  Judging by who was to fly on it I have to assume it was gone over with a fine tooth comb before take-off.  Accidents due to pilot error and weather happen.

  •  Rather uninformed about Siloviki interests (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, GlowNZ, Coach Jay

    in Russia.  The last thing the ex-KGBers need is trouble with Poland.  With the 'Stans exploding and the internal demographics of Russia, the rapproachment with Poland has been genuine and entirely in the interests of the Putin-Medvedev crowd.

    Remember, the pipeline that crossed Ukraine got bled by the Kiev government on its way to western customers.  The pipeline under the Baltic merely gives Russia a more secure way to deliver gas to Germany.

    Decapitating the Polish government does Putin no good.

  •  Unconvincing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amanuensis, GlowNZ

    Sure Russia has motive to take out any number of foreign governments that get in its way. But the Polish government wasn't in its way anymore. The NORDSTREAM pipeline, as you say, was underway when the plane went down. The Polish government used to oppose it, then it didn't. Why kill them when they're setting up the pipeline?

    Not to mention the certainty that Poland would do everything within its power, including war, if the Polish people believed the Russian government had just destroyed its government. Gas supplies would become a relatively small problem. All of Europe, probably the US and much of the rest of the world (including OPEC countries that compete with Russian energy mafias) would upset Putin's apple cart if he were caught doing something that extreme.

    Sure, Poland is entertaining more competition to Russia's desired Eastern European gas blackmail monopoly. But that's going to happen anyway, regardless of the destruction of the Polish government's leaders. In fact, if the next government believes Russia was in any way involved, Russia will have lost vastly more than it could have gained.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 09:08:21 AM PDT

  •  i thought ct diaries were banned. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this was an accident pure and simple.  The pilot didnt obey orders from the traffic control tower.

    Love is the force for saving all animal life- humans included.

    by GlowNZ on Mon Apr 12, 2010 at 09:12:22 AM PDT

  •  This is the most incoherent CT I've (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, Coach Jay

    read on dKos, and I've been around since late 2002.

    The Tupolev 154 airplane was designed to be robust and first rate at takeoff from bad quality Soviet era airfields.  Engineering-wise this was achieved at a high cost in good landing characteristics- it's tail heavy and a relatively heavy plane overall.  The weight and air intake arrangement of the engines look like it would very dangerous to land at what these days is a sharp but undangerous descent angle for a modern jetliner.  I would guess the stall angle is relatively small and at it the engines don't get enough air in time to accelerate the plane enough.  Dense fog or clouds also lowers the amount of oxygen in a given volume of air by a few percent, further decreasing what the engines can do.

    My guess of what happened is that the pilot last flew some modern jetliners.  Flying into Smolensk, he either  forgot to descend early or forgot that the TU 154 is unsafe at sharp landing angles.  In any case, he took the plane into descent at too sharp an angle with a guess of how far it was to go to the airfield, figuring if he was angling short he'd get told how much so by air traffic control or the electronic landing system at the airfield and would just gun the engines enough to regain enough height to make it.  

    Then the air controllers told him they didn't have the radar based landing system or good enough distance information, and that fog was reason enough to abort and fly to Minsk.  The pilot decided that flying to Minsk would screw up the day for the delegation in ways he'd find hard to justify well and decided he would get into sight of the ground and try to find the airfield visually.

    He got low enough to see the ground but then the combination of the low height over the ground and the plane failed him.  He figured he'd gun the engines hard once he saw ground- and he did.  Problem was the engines didn't gun strongly enough, he was in a turn and descending.  The top of the three engines was shielded from a lot of air flow by the fuselage by the angling of the plane against the descent, and due to the turn he was also in one rear side engine- the left one- caught a lot more air than the right one.  

    It being a heavy plane and being so low the pilot gunned the engines near the max- which means feeding the maximal amount of fuel into the engines.  Speed was relatively low and so the left rear side engine on the outside of the turn had a fair amount more air to work with than the others and torqued the whole plane to the right.  There wasn't enough power overall to lift the plane in toro or enough on the right side to prevent the spin and the differential lift under the left wing.  The pilot couldn't un-gun the engine at that point- it's a hydraulic system and he had maybe seconds to try to counteract the problem- and the plane just arced and keeled over to the right into the treetops.

    So I'd say it was a mismatch of the pilot with the particular plane, not realizing just how comprehensively poor the thing's landing characteristics were compared to others he'd probably been flying.  There have been a number of other TU 154 crashes in landing approach, all short of the runway by a few hundred meters.  It simply has to be the combination of the plane weight and engine placement becoming a death trap when the pilot comes in at too sharp a descent angle- that doesn't get him per se, it's the attempt to correct for it close to the ground that does.

  •  I thought the above was an interesting discussion (0+ / 0-)

    .... with a number of really informed points which I have come to expect from the Kos community.  It's not really a CT (this email that I received).  It's a perspective from an oil based, energy resource driven society.  What the above comments suggest is the perspective of a "reality based" community, which is really supportive of everything that goes on here.  Thanks for your contribution to my understanding of this terrible catastrophe.

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