Editor’s note: Below is an interview with Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist at ITG. This Q&A went out to subscribers of our “10 Things You Need To Know Before The Opening Bell” newsletter on Monday morning. Sign up here to get the newsletter and more of these interviews in your inbox every day.
Business Insider: Who should be most worried about the situation in Ukraine?
Judith Dwarkin: Obviously, there are many serious dimensions to the situation, including the potential for further military incursions by Russia into eastern and southern Ukraine, and battling factions within Ukraine itself contributing to ongoing internal instability. From the narrow perspective of the country’s energy supplies, a top concern is that deliveries of Russian gas (and/or gas in transit through Ukraine to Europe) could be disrupted, either intentionally or because of sabotage. Given the current environment of open hostilities and that Ukraine owes Russia around $US2 billion for previous gas purchases, there also is the question of how much Russia will charge Ukraine for gas as of April 1. Obtaining gas from eastern Europe to replace the Russian product would give Ukraine a bargaining chip, but arranging this would take some time.
BI: What will be the fate of the Keystone Pipeline?
JD: Putting “bullish” and “Keystone” in the same sentence is impossible, given the tortured history of this project. The latest wrinkle in the saga is the ruling by a Nebraska judge that the state’s oil pipeline siting law is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the 90-day “National Interest Determination/Final Decision” phase now underway notionally concludes early in 2Q14, after which a decision, in theory, can (finally) be rendered. While an objective reading of the State Department’s findings and consideration of other aspects of the “national interest” associated with this project should favour a positive decision, who knows which way the political winds will be blowing at this time?
BI: Are you bullish on the timeline for Mexican energy investment?
JD: “Bullish” relative to what? The pace at which development may or will proceed depends on many things, most notably the details on how reform is to be implemented, including local content rules and government take. These details have yet to be worked out. The country also must build new regulatory institutions able to supervise a sector that will be much more complex than previously. The first post-reform bid round reportedly isn’t planned to take place until sometime in 2015.