The wrangle for control over Ukraine is not only about gas pipelines coming from Eurasia and diversifying energy supply routes away from Russia and Gazprom. There also seems to be interest in Ukraine's shale gas potential which it shares with Poland, its neighbouring EU state.
'Ukraine’s total shale gas deposits are estimated at around 7 trillion cubic meters, which places the country at the third place in Europe after Poland and Norway. There are two major shale gas fields: Yuzivs’ka, located in Eastern Ukraine (Donets’k and Kharkiv regions) in the Dnipro-Donbas petroleum basin, and Oles’ka in Western Ukraine (L’viv and Ivano-Frankivs’k regions), part of the Poland’s Lublin gas basin. Yuzivs’ka field is said to contain around 2 trillion cubic meters of gas, while Oles’ka’s deposits are estimated at 1.5 trillion cubic meters'.It seems that regional party bosses were vying for control in regions were shale gas was discovered some time before the crisis in Ukraine reached the brink of civil war. Where there is a battle to contend over access to and so profit from gas, the stakes are going to be higher.
Multinationals such as Shell were brought in to drill in the eastern gasfield near Donestsk in 2012.
Shell started test drilling already in 2012 at a lot leased before the PSA on Yuzivs’ka field was signed. Yet, already now shale gas production is severely contested by Gazprom and Russian high state officials.The shale gas discoveries provide one reason why Poland has been particulary keen to back the Kiev government after the uprising to remove Yanukovych. Partly, west Ukraine is historically in its sphere of interest and a shared gasfield would bring the two nations closer.
Poland has wanted to aim at energy independence for some time and to win its old battle with Russia for control over Ukraine dating back to the seventeenth century, a neo-imperial struggle with Poland having the big battalions of NATO on their side this time.
The US clearly has sought to back a new government in Kiev in order to push for shale gas exploration and to draw Ukraine definitively into the west's orbit away from Russia, something that could only raise the fears of eastern Ukrainians that they were being forced into the west.
In 2013 the US Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft was stating that the aim was to advance US interests in western Ukraine's shale gas, with corporations such as Chevron and Exxon Mobile gaining concessions from local councils in Lviv and Ivano Frankivsk ( controlled by the far right Svoboda).
The US wanted Ukraine to be energy independent and on the way to EU and NATO membership, the two being yoked together by Atlanticist diplomats such as Tefft. This is despite the fact 70% of Ukrainians are opposed to NATO entry, a figure showing how divided Ukraine was even before the current crisis.
The reason for that relentless push eastwards is part of the US drive to control the Back Sea via NATO and control pipeline routes from Eurasia, one contended by Russia which has most likely sunk Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to drill for gas off the Crimean coast.
The gasfields off the Crimean Peninsula are part of ExxonMobils Black Sea discovery in 2012 of the Domino field off Romania, another new NATO member looking for energy independence and to push back Russian influence in places such as Transdnistria where the populace has shown a wish for formal separation from Moldova.