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Russian efforts to disrupt U.S. energy markets exposed

June 12, 2018

By Paul Homewood






The Kremlin has masterminded an elaborate scheme to undermine American fossil-fuel production and distribution, concludes a report by the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Released March 1, the report, “Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media,” reveals how Russia has teamed up with U.S. and European environmental groups to use such popular outlets as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to turn American public opinion against the domestic oil and natural gas industry.

With the United States having surpassed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and now ranking as the world’s fastest-growing producer of oil, the Russians have reason to fear what is more than a little competition. Saying America’s soaring energy development “poses a direct threat to Russian energy interests,” the report explains:

“First, an abundance of American energy supply in the global energy marketplace stands to reduce Russian market share and thus revenues generated from oil and gas activities. Second, by providing supply alternatives to European countries dependent on Russian supply and infrastructure, American energy stands to disrupt the Kremlin’s ability to leverage energy consumption for geopolitical influence.”

Threat to Russia’s Dominant Position in European Gas Markets

The study points out that Russia provides roughly 75% of the natural gas imported by countries in Central and Eastern Europe while countries in Southeast Europe receive almost all their natural gas from Russia. “Russia’s Gazprom has acknowledged for the first time a threat to its dominant position in the European gas market from an expected influx of liquified natural gas (LNG) produced in the United States under the [Trump] administration,” the report cites Reuters as saying.

Poland, for example, recently signed a five-year agreement to import LNG from the U.S. in an attempt to decrease its dependence on Russian natural gas.

“As the threat of American energy continues to grow, so does the Kremlin’s incentive to influence energy operations in Europe and the United States,” the report notes.

Launching Propaganda from Social Media Platforms

Meticulous research by the House committee has unearthed a sophisticated Kremlin plan to disrupt its unwanted energy competitor. Aware that fracking, horizontal drilling, and the construction of a state-of-the-art energy distribution system in the U.S. would further erode Moscow’s once-powerful position, the Kremlin turned to social media to get its message out. After complying with the committee’s request for documentation, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram turned over material linking to a St. Petersburg company, Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was quickly identified as having been created by the Russian government. IRA’s use of American social media platforms to spread anti-U.S. fossil-fuel propaganda was summarized by the committee’s report as follows:

  • Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets regarding U.S. energy policy or a current energy event on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 4,334 IRA accounts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • According to information provided by Twitter, more than four percent of all IRA tweets were related to energy or environmental issues, a significant portion of the content when compared with the eight percent of the tweets related to the 2016 U.S. election.
  • Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence U.S. energy policy.
  • The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues in the U.S.

Pipelines have been a favorite target of Russian posts on social media platforms. Pipelines targeted include Dakota Access, Keystone XL, Colonial, Bayou Bridge, and Embridge Line 5.

In conjunction with the committee’s findings, the U.S. Department of Justice has demanded the American affiliate of the Russian network RT register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). FARA requires that agents representing the interests of foreign governments in any political or quasi-political capacity disclose public communications aimed at influencing American political debate or public policy.

In January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a report stating there is “clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States.” And Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Delaware) has referred to environmental activists as “useful idiots” for doing the Kremlin’s bidding when it comes to U.S. energy production.

  1. June 12, 2018 8:26 am

    ‘Useful idiots’ indeed – as Lenin used to say. There are the protest puppets and then there are the string pullers.

    • HotScot permalink
      June 12, 2018 8:56 am


      I needn’t have bothered posting my comment below (It seems I was typing it whilst you were posting yours).

      Yours is a perfect summation.

  2. HotScot permalink
    June 12, 2018 8:53 am

    It comes as no surprise that Russia is up to no good on social media. They had a captive audience and were masters of internal propaganda during the cold war. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. presented them with a gullible, captive audience, predominantly youthful and naive, so the job of radicalising them won’t have been particularly difficult, especially since all eyes have been on religious radicalisation.

    The “useful idiots” in our midst, the radical western environmentalist’s, these are the real enemy of the western world. Quislings in our community, imagining they are clever employing Russia to do their bidding.

    But these useful idiots have no concept of what Russia is capable. “Traitors” are routinely poisoned, Alexander Litvinenko, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. And these are only the ones we know about. How many more have suffered a similar fate across the world.

    The idiots are playing with fire and are smug enough to imagine they are in control of the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    And the truth is, they should be tried for treason as they would have been not too many years ago.

  3. LvJohn permalink
    June 12, 2018 9:22 am

    The US complains about Russian efforts to disrupt their fracking industry oil and gas industry using the medium of social media.
    Meanwhile in the real world, US uses political threats to disrupt the South Stream to Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. Turkey says thanks for that please Russia divert it my way. The US is now threatening sanctions on Germany for accepting North Stream pipeline. German minister complains , asking why should we pay triple the price for LNG from US?
    The US kettle is calling the pot black.

  4. June 12, 2018 9:36 am

    I doubt that Russian efforts and impacts are even on the radar, compared with those of various US billionaires, the World Bank, Hollywood, the patsies in the media and academia, etc.

    RT has a go in the UK, but are minor league compared with the BBC.

    • sarastro92 permalink
      June 12, 2018 3:08 pm

      Correct. Thanks for a bit or reality.

  5. June 12, 2018 9:57 am

    <blockquote" . FARA requires that agents representing the interests of foreign governments in any political or quasi-political capacity disclose public communications aimed at influencing American political debate or public policy.

    That seems to apply even more to the BBC – a few minutes watching BBC America makes it plain that they seek to influence US politics in a manner that the Ivans would never presume to……

    It strikes me as misdirection from the business of rooting out the networks of malign influence cultivated domestically by elements of the federal bureaucracy and their chums in machine politics and the media.

    The appearance of US based anti fossil fuel “protestors” in Canadian provinces is something that could do with looking into….

  6. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 12, 2018 10:16 am

    It is of course the People’s Republic of Boston that imported LNG from Russia last winter, trying to disguise it by transshipping. With no adequate pipeline supply because of objections to building it, they became a vassal city. Score Gazprom 1, Massachussets 0.

    • HotScot permalink
      June 12, 2018 11:04 pm

      It doesn’t add up…


      Can’t help but think of Kenny Everett.

      Only we old Brits will get that one.

  7. sean2829 permalink
    June 12, 2018 10:35 am

    For what it’s worth, Ben Cardin (D) is Maryland’s senator and Maryland has banned fracking (but loves to buy cheap gas from other states).

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      June 14, 2018 10:47 am

      It even exports it from Cove Point.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    June 12, 2018 12:45 pm

    How times have changed. The Russians are acting for economic gain instead of communism. Not a surprise that they are and this stuff with social media is very lightweight. What is of far greater interest is the funding of environmental groups and of democrats by Russia.

  9. June 12, 2018 1:14 pm

    Here is a recent incident in West Virginia as reported in the Washington Post, no less. The pipeline workers had only a short window to fell the trees and these 2 thought to wait them out. Fortunately a judge stepped in.

    A mother and daughter who had been camped high in trees for five weeks to protest a natural gas pipeline near Roanoke climbed down from their roosts Saturday after a federal judge threatened to start levying heavy fines.

    Theresa “Red” Terry, 61, and her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, 30, had perched on platforms in trees on the family’s Bent Mountain property since April 2 to protest construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

    The women endured sub-freezing temperatures, high winds, snow and rain in their efforts to stop tree-clearing and to rally opposition against the 303-mile pipeline, which will carry gas from West Virginia through the mountainous southwest section of Virginia.

    Late Friday, a federal judge said the pipeline company had legal authority to be on the land, found the women in contempt and gave them until 11:59 p.m. Saturday to come down. If they didn’t, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon would have imposed a $1,000 fine against each woman for every day they continued to defy the court.

    Dillon also authorized U.S. marshals to take command of the situation and bring them down by force if necessary or practical.

    In addition, the judge found Coles Terry III, Red Terry’s husband and Minor Terry’s father, in contempt for his continued support of the women’s efforts. She fined him $2,000. Shortly after 4 p.m., the protesters climbed down from their trees on a ladder hoisted by law enforcement officials to supporters gathered near their trees — along with Roanoke County police and state troopers, who have been monitoring the sites.

    The Mountain Valley Pipeline is being built by a coalition of companies led by EQT Midstream Partners.

    Lawyers for the project told the judge that the delays caused by the Terrys cost the pipeline more than $15,000 and that security and related efforts around the tree-sitting zones cost more than $25,000.

    In her order, the judge said that the Terrys were free to express opposition to the project but said they had contested it in court and lost. The pipeline, therefore, has a legal right to do the work on its right of way through the family’s property.

    “The Court understands that the Terrys and others are disappointed and frustrated with the situation,” Dillon wrote. But their actions “clearly violate this court’s order and MVP’s rights under it.” Even if seen as civil disobedience intended to express opposition to the project, the judge said, those who disobey valid court orders “should be prepared to face the consequences.”

    • HotScot permalink
      June 12, 2018 11:13 pm


      Tree huggers.

      Minority groups, forcing their will on the majority.

      I’m all for peaceful protest, but selling ones soul for a few thousand bucks is hardly a committed protester.

      Now had they been taken down by force i.e. chainsaw to the tree, I might have had a modicum of respect for their guts.

      In this case, just so much wasted space and use of court time.

      • Fred Streeter permalink
        June 13, 2018 8:51 am

        Their trees on their property.

        I, too, would have protested for as long as my purse could hold out.

        Good for them.

      • paul weldon permalink
        June 13, 2018 1:23 pm

        No, they simply don’t want a pipeline running through their family land. I would fight too, if a government ruled that I could not decide on what happened on my own land. Would you not protest if the government told you that you must have a windmill built on your land? I feel sure you would. And you would probably also realise at some stage that you cannot afford to pay or want to pay the government 1000 a day in fines (x2) when there is no prospect of you winning the case, and that your fine is going to help pay for the windmill to be built. I would not care either that it cost the courts time and money, when they are supporting a project I disagree with.

      • dave permalink
        June 13, 2018 4:00 pm

        “…protest if the government…a windmill built on your land…”

        It is more like having a power cable from the windmill run through. I would expect compensation but in view of the fact that this pipeline will be buried and unobtrusive after installation they seem a bit nimbyish. The American legal system has always had a strong leaning to support of anything which can be spun as development.

      • bobn permalink
        June 14, 2018 10:15 am

        Yes it is a bugger living in a State. We are all subject to the collective will regardless whether a monarchy or democracy. The state over-rules. Here in UK they wanted to run a part of the national gas pipeline (1m diameter) through my land. I refused consent. letters went back and forth until they went for court action for compulsory access. at which point I gave in – they would get the court order. The pipe is buried 2m under but i am prohibited from erecting any building within 15m of its track. The State always wins over the individual. I see no difference between UK, Russia and USA in their behaviours.

    • June 14, 2018 10:59 am

      This was a situation where the right of “eminent domain” had been through the courts. This is a major pipeline. The women were also part of a larger group which was opposed to the pipeline and natural gas extraction in general. That group thought they could stop the pipeline with this particular property due to its location and remoteness.

  10. dennisambler permalink
    June 12, 2018 1:52 pm

    “Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets regarding U.S. energy policy or a current energy event on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

    Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 4,334 IRA accounts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.”

    Wow, this is massive. Russia is in competition with Global Warming for how many things it is responsible for.

    They even made me vote for Brexit and I don’t even have a Twitter or Facebook account. Now that’s clever.

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      June 12, 2018 10:50 pm

      Neither do I and I voted Brexit too.
      I must be one of a handful of Cambridge academics to do so.
      How I hate their smug sense of superiority.
      Most of them are green and/or vote Liebore.

      • HotScot permalink
        June 12, 2018 11:16 pm



        I have a FB account (don’t use it) and I’m as thick as a short plank.

        But I voted Brexit.

        I’m elevated to good company.


  11. Bitter@twisted permalink
    June 12, 2018 10:46 pm

    The Left and their fellow travellers, the Greens have always been witting or unwitting apologists for Russia.

    • HotScot permalink
      June 12, 2018 11:19 pm


      And the Bear rubs it’s paws, as it invites them into it’s cave.

      Easy meat.

  12. bobn permalink
    June 12, 2018 11:39 pm

    Of course russia propagandises in support of its industry. Just like the USA and Uk and EU propagandise in support of theirs. (witness nutty campaign against USA chicken because they wash it in chlorinated water. We in the UK and EU swim in and drink chlorinated water but heaven forbid we import food washed in it!!!) What a bullshit story about what the whole world has been doing for 100’s of years. Propaganda supporting mercantilism – we invented it. Yawn.

    • June 13, 2018 5:29 am

      The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Farming Today’ had an item about all pre-packed supermarket salads being washed in chlorinated water, but nobody seemed to be concerned about that. Of course there was no mention about how it was acceptable to wash salad in chlorinated water but that washing chickens in chlorinated water was very ‘controversial’.

      • dave permalink
        June 13, 2018 7:50 am

        As someone who was given up for dead at age three months because of infantile summer flux, and who contracted a permanent reactive arthritis from a stomach bug in Milan, and who was put in hospital by a salmonella from chicken eggs…I love the smell of chlorine in the morning!

  13. RAH permalink
    June 13, 2018 12:10 pm

    And so the beat goes on. The deep state establishment is right now completely on the defensive in the US.

    Mueller has filled a motion to prevent the concerns accused of conspiring or working with the Russians from being given the evidence that the collusion actually occurred. In the US the accused and charged has the right under the Constitution to be presented the evidence against them and in fact in this case the evidence upon which their indictment was based.

    Meanwhile Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is running out of time and ploys. He has stalled in providing the documents upon which the whole Russian collusion case is based. He has also stalled on providing the documents upon which the indictment of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was based. Now it has been found that Rosenstein has threatened certain members of Congress key to the investigation demanding the documents that he will subpoena their personal financial records. That would be obstruction of justice if he cannot show probable cause for said subpoenas.

    • Bitter@twisted permalink
      June 13, 2018 4:45 pm

      The Clinton/Democrat crime syndicate is starting to feel cornered.
      And like any animal it is starting to lash out with little thought as to the longer term consequences.

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