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France, Russia and the G20

19 June, 2010

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev want “developing” nations to a have larger role in decisions involving the international “community.” AP story here

Speaking on Saturday at an economic summit in Russia, Sarkozy called for the creation of a global financial institution and the creation of an international monetary unit as steps toward reform of the global economic situation.  He also asked

“Who can seriously address the big problems of the world without asking the opinions of China, India, Brazil, Mexico?”

These are not the BRIC nations I had written about in an earlier post here but I passed that off thinking that it might have been odd to refer to Russia as a developing nation while speaking in Russia; so Brazil, Russia, India and China becoming Brazil, Mexico, India and China slipped by in my first reading.  Until I got to this part of the story.

France, Germany and Italy have been positioning themselves as Russia’s main partners in Europe, winning preferential energy deals in the process.

Russia and France signed nearly a dozen deals on the sidelines of the forum, on issues ranging from natural gas to space. Among them was a deal for France’s GdF Suez to join Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipeline project, of which the French company will now own 9 percent.  (Bold emphasis mine)

Color me suspicious, but aren’t energy resources the driving force on this planet?   (Friends come and go, but energy needs are always a demand.)   So, I turned to Wikipedia once again for a quick review of GdF Suez.

is a French-based energy company active in the fields of electricity generation and distribution, natural gas and renewable energy. The world’s second-largest utility, the company was formed by the merger of Gaz de France and Suez on 22 July 2008.

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Thanks to former Suez subsidiaries such as Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), Electrabel and Société Hydro Electrique du Midi (SHEM), GDF Suez is the second-largest generator of electricity in France[20] behind EDF.70% of the group’s production comes from renewable sources…

As impressed as I am over the GdF Suez commitment to renewable energy, I found its interest in developing countries to be less noble than it had appeared when I first read the AP story on Yahoo.

The GDF Suez group also generates electricity in a number of countries outside France. Most notably, the company is the leading producer in both Belgium and the Netherlands through Electrabel[26] (and the fifth-largest generator in Europe overall),[27] as well as the largest non-state owned generator in both Brazil and Thailand (thanks to majority stakes in Tractebel Energia and Glow Energy respectively). The company also operates in North and Latin America through its Suez Energy International unit, as well as in other European and Asian countries. The company generates electricity through various types of plants, including thermal power, nuclear power, combined heat and power, wind farms, hydroelectric and biomass.

What about Nord Stream?  Here’s what the company has to say.

Nord Stream is a gas pipeline to link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea. It will carry natural gas to supply both businesses and households. The new pipeline will be an important factor of energy security in Europe.

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Nord Stream is more than just a pipeline. It is a new channel for Russian natural gas exports, and a major infrastructure project which sets a new benchmark in EU-Russia cooperation.  here

And here is another perspective.

BERLIN — When the first of 100,000 steel pipes of the Nord Stream pipeline project are laid Friday in Portovaya Bay, north of St. Petersburg, Russia, it will be the culmination of a long Russian-German effort to build stronger economic ties and the beginning of a project that probably will not unfold as its promoters had hoped.

The dual-pipeline project, the first phase of which is to be completed in 2011, will allow Russia to pump its natural gas directly under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

But the project has been hugely contentious in Europe, where countries have raised concerns ranging from environmental effects to energy security because of an increase in dependence on Russian natural gas.  here

So what am I getting at here?  Just that people can talk inclusive  “global community” as much and as often as they want, but when you look further you discover interested parties who have something to gain, something to swap, and more consumers to buy their product – in other words, more money and more power.


Can’t wait to hear all that noble talk in Canada next week.  Go Sarkozy and Medvedev!

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