The US-driven high fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine caused NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to consider the Western Europe’s dependence on Russia as its main supplier of natural gas a serious concern. The NATO chief warned the continent of the need to focus on diversifying its supplies.
“We are concerned about the energy situation in Europe because it demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas, and that’s the reason why NATO allies agree that we need to work and focus on diversification of supplies,” Stoltenberg said.
According to the Eurostat statistics service of the European Commission, the EU imports 41.1 per cent of its natural gas from Russia, as well as 26.9 per cent of its crude oil. Thus, if Russia were to invade and if sanctions were to be placed on the country’s energy industry, gas and oil prices throughout the European continent could shoot up.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Germany had asked the EU and US to exempt the energy industry from any possible sanctions against Russia, as that it could significantly damage oil and gas supplies to the continent.
And last Sunday, January 30, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Joe Biden jointly promised that Washington and Brussels are working together “towards continued, sufficient, and timely supply of natural gas to the EU from diverse sources across the globe.”
According to data by Gas Infrastructure Europe, consumption from storage facilities this January is one third more than the average for the previous five years, so gas reserves in Europe expectedly dropped to historically low levels. The situation is quite tense, as usually, Europe’s gas inventories don’t fall even to half until about early-to-mid February and if the winter is mild, the inventories don’t sink below midpoint until early March.
However, the raising disagreement between the world powers (the West constant accusing Russia of a possible invasion and putting all efforts to halt Nord Stream 2) caused the defensive behaviour of importers which seriously reduced the physical import of gas to Europe. In particular, the first half of January, Gazprom’s exports to non-CIS countries fell by 40 per cent.
According to the experts, the arrival of liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargos in Europe has alleviated the energy crunch. However, RBC stated that the volume of LNG supplies is not able to compensate for the consumption of gas from European storage facilities: they are now filled by 39 per cent and contain 39 billion cubic metres of gas, which is enough for nine weeks only.