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Arctic ice is blocking the entrance to two of Russia’s largest ports for the export of oil and natural gas. Tankers are unable to reach two giant ports because the Gulf of Ob is frozen over in late June.
“The global warming, which there has been so much talk about for such a long time, seems to have receded a little and we are returning to the standards of the 1980s and 1990s,” Andrey Smirnov of the Rostamoflot oil company told The Barents Observer.
“The shipping companies had expected the Gulf of Ob to be free of ice in the course of June and that icebreaker assistance would not be necessary,” The Barents Observer reported. The ports of Sabetta and Novy Port are closed because icebreaker service ended in May.
Ice Blocks Oil Shipments
Icebreakers are available but their services have not been paid for. Russia’s Northern Sea Route Administration operates a number of huge nuclear-powered icebreakers that can easily crack open a route to the ports.
Three oil tankers and three natural gas tankers are currently headed to the ports but it is not clear if they are trapped in the ice. A number of cargo ships are apparently stuck at the port of Sabetta. Icebreakers are not available to clear the ice because no money was budgeted to pay for them during the summer.
The Gulf of Ob is in Siberia’s far north. Rastamoflot built a huge oil export facility at Sabetta. Another company called Gazprom Neft built a massive natural gas export facility at Novy Port.
Zerohedge’s Tyler Durden thinks the situation on the Gulf of Ob will eventually affect the price of oil because it comes at a time when Venezuela’s oil exports are also falling.
Nature and Human Error can Cause Energy Shortages
The situation on the Gulf of Ob should remind everybody that natural conditions and human error can severely disrupt the energy supply at any time. Most of the world’s oil moves on trade routes that can be blocked by any number of complications including excessive ice build up as a result of global cooling.
Ice jams in Russia can even affect electricity prices because natural gas is becoming a fuel of choice in America’s power plants. Natural gas shortages can lead to higher electric bills.
Every family and business should take steps to protect itself from the fragility of our energy supply lines. Having some type of backup power system can ensure that you still have electricity for your home and business.