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Morena Skalamera

Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project




Morena Skalamera recently completed her Ph.D in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Trieste. Her Ph.D. dissertation dealt with European-Russian energy cooperation and was funded by the International University Institute for European Studies (IUIES) with a grant to carry out research abroad. Her dissertation was primarily focused on understanding the lack of binding institutionalization of the EU-Russia energy relationship despite the high degree of interdependence between the two sides. She holds a B.A. and M.A. (summa cum laude) in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Trieste. During her M.A. studies, she spent a semester at Eckerd College in Florida, where she connected with professors who piqued her research interest in Russia-EU energy politics. During 2010-2011 she was a visiting student at the University of Westminster (London) where she completed a course in Diplomacy. She has attended many international conferences on energy issues, including 'Scenario Work on Eurasian Gas 2030' at Columbia University. She has also written several articles in the realm of politics as related to the EU-Russia Energy Security relations. During her tenure at the Belfer Center, she will be conducting research on a new project: "The Sino-Russian Gas Relationship and China’s disruptive rise in Energy and Geopolitics." Her areas of expertise and interest include: energy cooperation between the EU and Russia, global energy governance, geopolitical and strategic issues arising from the unequal distribution of global energy resources (in particular, natural gas), the role of technological breakthroughs, the Sino-Russian energy cooperation and the making of the United States’ foreign and security policies. In the summer of 2013 she will be teaching a seminar on the Geopolitics of Energy at the Peking University School of Government in Beijing (China).



By Date



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August 11, 2016

Revisiting the Nabucco Debacle: Myths and Realities

Journal Article, Problems of Post-Communism, issue 00, volume 00

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

This paper provides an overview of the debate surrounding the Nabucco pipeline’s cancellation. Conventional wisdom holds that Nabucco failed for political reasons, but the real cause of its failure was the emergence of two more economically viable pipeline plans.



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June 2016

Russia: Playing Hardball or Bidding Farewell to Europe?

Discussion Paper

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project and Andreas Goldthau, Associate, The Geopolitics of Energy Project

One of the great questions of energy geopolitics over the last few years has been the nature and extent of Russia’s shift in export strategy away from Europe. This question necessitates a thorough investigation of Gazprom’s reaction to a set of factors that threaten its position in the European gas market and, in turn, an assessment of key factors driving future European supply structures. This paper aims to do just that; it explores the extent to which this new Russian export strategy is real, and to the extent that it is, it investigates the drivers of the new approach in terms of timing, substance, and the prospects for this new approach to succeed. To this end, this discussion paper relies on a set of background interviews with policy makers, industry representatives, and analysts in Russia and Brussels.




March 28, 2016

Russia: Tribulations and Toska


By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

Putin's third presidential term started in May of 2012. He had already served two consecutive terms in 2000-2008, switching places with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2008-2012. Putin's first two terms composed a period of sustained growth, which provided empirical ammunition against criticism of his model. The freshman year of Medvedev's presidency coincided with the onset of a global economic crisis that exposed Putin's model to its first serious test.



Wikimedia Commons

February 2016

Invisible but not indivisible: Russia, the European Union, and the importance of “Hidden Governance”

Journal Article, Energy Research & Social Science, volume 12

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

This article considers a number of political explanations for gas policy and shows that it is usually the economic interests of big energy firms that frequently take precedence, although these are often ignored and hidden as factors.




January 2016

The Russian Reality Check on Turkey's Gas Hub Hopes

Policy Brief

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

On Nov 24, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet after it veered into its airspace for 17 seconds. On December 13, a Russian ship fired warning shots at a Turkish vessel in the Aegean Sea. Bilateral tensions, with overt military dimensions, have seemed to quickly replace the goodwill that characterized relations only a year ago.



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December 22, 2015

Sino-Russian energy relations reversed: a new little brother

Op-Ed, Open Democracy

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

In the year since Russia and China signed a landmark $400bn natural gas pact in May 2014, rapid developments in the energy sector and the geopolitical situation offer a chance to re-examine the deal. Indeed, the aftermath of the pact saw a return to a world of cheaper oil—a situation driven by a number of factors outside of Russia’s control. The buffeting winds of broadbrush western sanctions have deepened the uncertain fiscal outlook for Russia’s hydrocarbon-driven economy, calling its financial resilience into question.



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October 11, 2015

"A Kink In the Pipeline: Why Turkish-Russian Gas Diplomacy Won't End Well for Ankara"

Magazine or Newspaper Article, Foreign Affairs

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

On December 1, 2014, during a visit to Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin abruptly announced that Gazprom was cancelling the South Stream pipeline, which would have taken natural gas from Russia through the Black Sea to Bulgaria, and through Serbia, Hungary, and Slovenia to Austria. That same day, BOTAŞ, Turkey’s state-owned pipeline company, and Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a new offshore gas pipeline named Turkish Stream, which would boast a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year and would run from Russia, under the Black Sea, and on to the Turkish–Greek border. In the first phase of the project, starting in December 2016, Russia agreed to supply some 16 bcm to Turkey. In the second phase, the remaining 47 bcm would be delivered to the planned hub on the Turkish side of the Turkish–Greek border.



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July 23, 2015

"Energy Security in the Wake of the Ukraine Crisis"

Journal Article, Global Policy

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

Ever since the 1973 oil embargo, and especially since the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis of 2006, Western policy makers have paid a great deal of attention to energy security. Yet there is no consensus as to what energy security is, what methodologies are most useful for conceptualizing and operationalizing the term, or even whether it is possible to generalize about anything as complex and contextually dependent as energy security. This enormous diversity of theoretical, methodological, and epistemological perspectives on the study of energy security complicates any assessment of the state of the field. It is, however, precisely because ‘energy security’ is such an elusive concept that academics, statesmen, and analysts of energy politics should not strive to coalesce around one precise definition.



Wikipedia Commons

Summer 2015

"The Ukraine Crisis: The Neglected Gas Factor"

Journal Article, Orbis, issue 3, volume 59

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project

The current Ukraine crisis is often portrayed as a contest between Ukraine's desire to adopt West European standards of living and its historical pull towards Russia's sphere of influence. 



Wikipedia Commons

April 23, 2015

"Italy’s Path to Gas Liberalisation"

Journal Article, Contemporary Italian Politics

By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project


Existing studies show that, on average, national champions in energy-rich states tend to ‘stick around’ by maintaining strong links with their respective governments in the distribution of rents. Yet the foundations of preference formation—the particular role of national champions, their relationship to their respective governments and a limited number of third suppliers in that process—have neither been theorised nor investigated empirically in countries that are net importers of gas.

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We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.