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Europe Begins to Prepare for Russia Turning off Gas

Europe Begins to Prepare for Russia Turning off Gas
Source: BBC

Russia may cease exporting gas to Europe this winter, according to the chairman of the International Energy Agency.

According to Fatih Birol, a total shutdown is not the most likely scenario, but Europe has to have backup measures just in case.

Several European nations have reported receiving much less Russian gas than anticipated.

Officials from Russia claim technological difficulties and deny that it was done on purpose.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Europe imported around 40% of its natural gas from Russia; this percentage is now closer to 20%.

According to Mr. Birol, the current Russian cuts in gas supplies are “strategic.” The declines are making it more difficult for European nations to fill up their gas stockpile this winter and giving Russia more clout.

According to Mr. Birol, who spoke to BBC News, “I wouldn’t rule out Russia continuing to find various faults here and there, and continuing to find justifications to further restrict gas exports to Europe, and perhaps even shut it off entirely.”

Only 40% of Nord Stream 1, one of the main pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe, was being used last week. The Russian argument that this was brought on by “technical difficulties” is disputed by many specialists.

Gas supply shortages are still being reported around Europe. The Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom told the Italian energy company Eni on Friday that it had only delivered half the gas it had ordered, while Slovakia and Austria have also reported declines.

Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands have had their supply of Russian gas delayed after they rebuffed a demand to pay in Russian roubles. France claims that it has not received any Russian gas through Germany since June 15th.

European nations decided last month to attempt to fortify their storage facilities in an effort to fend against the erratic gas prices. With the most recent statistics indicating they are at roughly 55 percent, they collectively agreed to attain at least 80 percent capacity by November.

By using more coal-fired power plants and, if feasible, extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants, Mr. Birol claimed that the current gas issue now justifies taking immediate, emergency measures to cut demand. He claims that severe measures could be required if the Russian gas supply was completely cut off.

I don’t rule out the prospect that Europe would require a planned and systematic gas restriction, says Mr. Birol.

“I don’t claim this is the basic scenario, but looking at the experiences we have had with Russia as an energy partner over the previous few months, if not many years, this is a possibility we cannot afford to dismiss for the time being,” the author said.