Author: Seyedhamidreza Alavi
Connect with Seyedhamidreza
Date of Publication: 20/10/2022
The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues and European policies regarding gas importation have also been affected. In this regard, Shell’s chief executive has recently said: “The gas shortage across the European states is expected to last for a few years”.
At the moment there are three different pipeline routes carrying Russian gas to Europe. Among those routes, only one of them is still working and it goes through Ukraine and then to Slovakia, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The other two routes located under the Baltic sea to Germany have been deactivated.
Even though In the past few months the European politicians were struggling to survive this year’s winter, the situation in the next few winters will possibly become even worse.
But how did this energy shortage start?
To answer this question once again we have to mention Russia’s conflict with the west. As the illegal war towards Ukraine continues, European states have started to increase their pressure on Russia by implementing new sanctions against the country. As a counter-attack, Moscow has also decided to Weaponize its gas exportation within the EU states and use it as a tool against them.
The challenges ahead
The International Energy Agency (IEA) located in Paris has recently published a report calling for immediate action. In the report the need to reduce natural gas-use by 13 percent within EU states over the winter is highlighted in the case of a complete cut-off of gas from Russia which is not far from coming true. Another highlighted risk that has been recently taken into consideration is late winter’s unpredictable cold temperature, as it may become a special challenge for the states. The underground gas reservations are having much more slow rhythm at the end of the season because of low pressure along with less gas available in the storage caverns. It is one of the facts concerning relevant experts the most.
How is the EU handling the problem of gas shortage?
The IEA has declared its assumption regarding the need for gas storage for achieving 90% of capacity for the European states in the case of the Russian gas cut-off scenario. By now the EU has already achieved 88% of the needed amount. However, according to the IEA, gas storage must remain above 33% to have a secure winter, therefore the aim is to prevent storage levels from dropping below that amount.
So far the European states managed to cope with the gas shortage that happened because of the Russian gas cut-off by importing high volumes of liquefied natural gas or the so-called (LNG) mainly by ships from the U.S and Qatar. Increased pipeline supplies from countries such as Azerbaijan and Norway was also another policy taken within EU states for handling the problem.
Also, different businesses are doing their part to help get adapted with the new situation In coping with the gas shortage around Europe. cutting back their natural gas use and/or abandoning some activities due to high energy intensity such as making steel and fertilizer are some of them. However, some other small businesses are facing real challenges out there such as bakeries that are facing a huge increase in their energy-related costs.
Even though experts are calling for action, in this case, some of the European politicians such as the French prime minister miniaturize the challenges ahead. She has recently stated that her country has stocked up its supplies to the maximum capacities. The conflict is expected to continue as the European leaders accuse Russia with its Energy Blackmail. On the other hand, Russia also continues to use its gas as a tool aimed for putting pressure on different EU states over their governmental support for Ukraine and setting sanctions against this country.