The outcome of the US general election this November could affect Washington’s energy policy and relations with Russia. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s slogan could very well be “Make America Energy Independent Again” while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s energy plan could be a continuation of US President Barack Obama’s policy.
“I think with Trump energy policy would become very domestic. I would imagine that Trump will be more inclined to push the Keystone Pipeline from Canada and possibly to open up the environmentally sensitive areas,” Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Macro-Advisory, told New Europe. “Trump will be much more pro-energy self sufficiency, which would imply Keystone from Canada and then energy self sufficiency basically is North America self efficiency which relies on the Middle East.”
Trump promised to approve the expansion of the controversial and environmentally risky Keystone XL pipeline, an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States. The presumptive GOP nominee has also vowed the US would become and stay independent of any need to import energy from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) or “any nations hostile to our interests”.
Weafer noted that while there has been a lot of talk that the US may be exporting oil, the bottom line is that the US is the world’s largest oil user. He explained that the US produces 12 million barrels per day, which is up 5 million barrels over the last 7-8 years. “But it still burns 19.5 million so it imports 7 million. It is along with China the world’s biggest oil importer. They’re each importing around 7 million barrels a day. If the US starts to export oil it’ll have to bring more in the back door unless it can produce,” Weafer said.
“I would think that Trump would probably be less inclined to allow an expansion of exports and more inclined to favour projects which helps North America self sufficiency while Clinton might be more inclined to go with the more orthodox energy policy we had over the last 8 years. I wouldn’t really expect much change in energy policy relative what we had from Obama under her presidency,” Weafer said.
Turning to relations with Russia, Moscow has adopted a wait-and-see attitude during the US election campaign. “The Kremlin’s position seems appears to be that this is a very unusual election season in the US and what happens between now and November does not necessarily reflect what the position will be after the November election,” Weafer said.
He noted that Moscow has adopted the Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope position between now and November. “My guess is they’ll take what is thrown at them from the US during the election season, won’t take it personally and will expect to basically to stand up and have a more serious conversation after the November election,” he said.
At the moment, Russia is now focusing on the Europeans. “If the Europeans say decide that they would like to make some progress in easing sanctions 2017, then you can get some pressure coming from Europe to the US administration perhaps on the transition phase or preparation phase to make some concessions along with them,” he said.
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