09:16 GMT +311 December 2019
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    Prior to the grand opening ceremony of the Nord Stream gas pipeline in the German town of Lubmin.

    US Wants to Prop Gas Sales by Punishing 'Bad Actors' Amid Threats to Nord Stream

    © Sputnik / Grigoriy Sisoev
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    Addressing senior executives and ministers at an annual oil and gas industry gathering in Houston, US, the Secretary of State has called on them to take action against what he described as "bad actors" in an apparent reference to Russia, China, and Iran.

    Speaking at the IHS CeraWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, the oil and gas industry's annual gathering, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lashed out at Russia, Iran and China, accusing the countries of using energy as a weapon.

    "Some nations are using their energy for malign ends and not to promote prosperity the way we do here in the West. We're not just exporting American energy. We're exporting our commercial value system", Pompeo said, adding that America's newfound shale oil and natural gas reserves would "strengthen our hand in foreign policy".

    The top diplomat called on oil companies to assist the Trump administration in a bid to boost US oil and gas exports and punish what he called "bad actors" on the world stage.

    "We need to roll up our sleeves and compete — by facilitating investment, encouraging partners to buy from us, and by punishing bad actors", he said.

    'Helping' Venezuela, Crushing Iran

    Addressing top executives in the world's biggest energy companies, Pompeo stressed that Washington would use all its economic tools to tackle the situation in Venezuela, which plunged into a severe economic crisis several years ago due to sweeping US sanctions despite having the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

    In addition, the economic situation in the South American country has been exacerbated by Washington's decision to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president and impose additional sanctions on state-owned oil giant PDVSA to force out embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

    At the same time, Pompeo emphasised that the United States was "committed" to squeezing out Iran's oil industry by making allies cut their imports in the face of secondary sanctions following President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

    "We're committed to bringing Iranian crude oil exports to zero as quickly as market conditions will permit", he continued.

    European Allies Hooked on NordStream 2?

    After Iran and Venezuela, the American diplomat went to address the $11 billion NordStream 2 pipeline, a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies. The project is set to run from Russia through the Baltic Sea to a hub in Germany, and has been a subject for Washington's concern for quite a long time, since the US has been trying to sell its expensive liqueified natural gas (LNG) to European nations.

    "We don't want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the NordStream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies", Pompeo said.

    His comments came shortly after US Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed that Washington may slap sanctions on the pipeline project.

    READ MORE: European Parliament Adopts Resolution Urging to Stop Nord Stream 2

    Reacting to comments on the Nord Stream 2, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that potential restictions were "racketeering on the international arena".

    "The hostile and uncompetitive attitude of the US to this exclusively economic project is well-known, this is not news. We are aware that we're dealing with attempts at unprincipled competition, and sometimes using actions that amount to racketeering or asset-grabbing on the international arena", Peskov said.

    In a parallel development, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on Tuesday, urging to freeze the Nord Stream 2 project with a total of 402 lawmakers backing the document, 163 voting against the resolution and 83 abstaining.

    The document, introduced by a Latvian MP, also encourages to impose fresh sanctions on Russia and limit Moscow's access to funds and technologies, as well as to not view the cuntry as a strategic partner.

    According to the resolution, the project would increase the European Union's dependence on Russian gas supplies and jeopardise the 28-member bloc's energy policy and "strategic interests".

    Tags:
    Nord Stream 2, Sanctions, oil, Iran nuclear deal, actors, crisis, foreign policy, gas, Juan Guaido, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump, Nicolas Maduro, Iran, China, United States, Russia, Venezuela
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