Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 27, 2021 (


I’ve been quiet on the non-book blogging front for almost a year for several reasons. There’s so much politicization and polarization that I realize a blogger isn’t changing anyone’s mind who wasn’t leaning that way to begin with. When even friends can’t amicably discuss topics over dinner because they can’t agree on a common set of facts, then the audience for conspiracy blogging is limited to the already-converted. Rather than broadcast into an echo chamber, I’ve stepped aside.


This week, I’ve been moved to post anyway because the Ukraine war is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The blog is a short read which ends in a pair of references to BBC articles for those who want to dig deeper.


On the writing front, I’m at the two-thirds mark with The Haven, the third book in the Dark Plague trilogy that imagines a world crippled by a deadly Covid mutant and an extended family’s attempts to survive. As always, there’s plenty of action, vile machinations and heartbreak, but this time there’s a conclusion. Look for The Haven around mid-year.


The award-winning series opener Dark Cure remains a bargain at $0.99 in the Kindle store ($13.99 in paperback). I ran an experiment and didn’t promote or advertise follow-up Hard Road, so it’s made less of an impact in the sales charts while being just as exciting as its predecessor. Buying that will set you back $3.99 ($10.99 in soft cover) and generate the urge to visit northern Idaho (or not, as the case may be).


Wishing you and your families a healthy and safe year ahead.


Bradley West, Singapore, March 18, 2022





From the chart at the top of this blog, you can see US energy giants have invested billions (and plan to invest more) in LNG liquefaction plants, almost all of them located on the East and Gulf Coasts. Western Europe is the natural market for this LNG which can be used for heating, petrochemical feedstock and electricity generation. Except that the completed-but-not-yet-operational Nord Stream 2 pipeline would supply the same natural gas far more cheaply, jeopardizing billions in U.S. investments.


The energy lobby in Washington didn’t want Nord Stream 2 to come online and, since it was announced in the mid-2010s, they deployed all their usual lobbying charms with Western European governments. These efforts failed with Russia’s Gazprom and Shell (Nord Stream 2’s co-investors) in opposition. What the energy good old boys needed was a scenario that jolted the EC into realizing that dependency on Russia for energy was strategically ill-advised.



As a last ditch ploy, did the LNG lobby pressure the Biden administration not to utter the magic words that could have prevented the war? “NATO for Ukraine will never happen.” (Then Brussels could then perhaps be persuaded to declare “No Economic Community membership for Ukraine” as well, but potential EC membership wasn’t the proximate cause of those T-72s rolling across the border.)



Because the US wouldn’t say, “No NATO,” Putin massed Russia’s military on the border. That was all part of the US plan: senior officials wanted Putin to show his most dangerous side to frighten the Europeans into canceling Nord Stream 2. Once Germany pulled the plug, the playbook called for the U.S. to announce “No frigging way is Ukraine ever joining NATO.” The Russians would pull their troops back and everyone could exhale. The LNG sector would have a bigger customer base, more campaign contributions would roll in and no one would be any worse off other than Nord Stream 2 investors and Russia gas exporters: neither one high in the DC pecking order (and Western Europe energy customers, not that they count).



Only it didn’t turn out that way and because NATO’s refusal to categorically deny Ukraine membership drove Putin crazy. Yes, Putin surely wants/ed to re-incorporate Ukraine into Russia, but the argument can be made that he would have lived with an independent neutral Ukraine if he didn’t fear someday waking up to the news that Ukraine was now a full NATO member.



I suspect that top Pentagon, State Department and CIA officials had the same, “Oh, shit!” reaction that the Chinese leadership did when the Wuhan Institute of Virology had that accident in the fall of 2019. And about the same lack of willingness to confess that they’d erred, too.




* * * * *



None of the above should be construed as taking Russia’s side. Far from it: most of the blame for the war still falls on Putin. But acceptable political discourse in today’s America doesn’t involve debating the extent to which Putin was provoked and whether poking the bear contributed significantly to the war’s outbreak. To the extent that these things might have, then a deeper look at LNG money politics seems to be in order. Too often in our lifetimes have lobbyists—often from the defense and energy industries—wielded too much influence over foreign policy. What’s a recent development is the lack of an independent press pursuing these stories without bias.


Source: “Where are Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plants,, March 4, 2022 (


The law of unintended consequences has already played out around Ukraine’s nuclear installations. What the corporate press doesn’t understand is that Russia has no interest in damaging these power stations for two reasons. First, as long as the reactors and radioactive materials are shielded, any weapon systems located on-site cannot be safely targeted. What better place to put missiles and long-range artillery than at Chernobyl or its operating analogs? A single mistake could result in another nuclear catastrophe, this one being credibly blamed on NATO or its proxy, Ukraine. The second reason is more mundane: free energy for Russia.



I hope that Western military support for Ukraine remains strong and that the Ukrainians expel the Russian army from their homeland. But even if that happens, I’m left with the feeling that this war was avoidable had the U.S. not played chicken with Russia in order to convince Germany to cancel Nord Stream 2.




Source: Gazprom as reproduced by the BBC



“Nord Stream 2 is a 1,200km pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which will take gas from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to Lubmin in Germany.


It cost €10bn (£8.4bn) and was completed last September [2021]. The Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom put up half of the cost and western energy firms such as Shell and ENGIE of France are paying the rest.


Nord Stream 2 runs parallel to an existing gas pipeline, Nord Stream, which has been working since 2011.


Together, these two pipelines could deliver 110bn cubic metres of gas to Europe every year. That is over a quarter of all the gas that European Union countries use annually.”


Source: from 2019, presents a video that lasts under three minutes that describes Europe’s demand for gas and the US’s longstanding opposition to Nord Stream 2.