Putin reeling as EU slashes Russian gas import by half
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The European Union is successfully transitioning away from Russian gas and turning to other energy suppliers in the United States and Qatar, dealing a blow to Vladimir Putin’s war chest. Before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the EU imported about 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia. With LNG deals with Qatar and the United States, the EU now only imports about 20 percent of Russian gas.
Speaking at conference, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said: “We have already replaced half of Russian gas – half of Russian gas,” Mr Borrell reiterated.
“Get the unit of measure right; use the billion cubic metres (BCM) as a unit of measurement, but the American billion, not the Castillian billion.
“Well, keep in mind that Europe consumes 400 BCM per year – 400 billion cubic metres per year.
“40 percent of that consumption was imported from Russia.”
“Now, we are already at 20 percent. We have managed to halve gas imports from Russia.
“How?” Mr Borrell asked. “Well, bringing gas from Qatar and the US, and reducing consumption.
“The problem is what do we do with the other 20 percent?”
The EU has turned to liquefied natural gas (LNG) deals with Qatar and the US to cushion the blow of Putin’s gas blackmail.
In July, Russian-state gas giant Gazprom closed Nord Stream 1 gas flows for its yearly work maintenance.
European leaders feared the Kremlin would prolong the suspension of gas flows to the EU to force the bloc to lift the economic sanctions they imposed on Russia.
Though the pipeline did resume gas flows – to the relief of Europe, which feared an economic recession – Gazprom halved the amount of gas flowing through the pipeline to 20 percent of capacity.
Now, the EU is racing against the clock to fill up gas storage ahead of what could be a difficult winter. EU leaders are concerned Russia could cut its gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
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Thanks to LNG deals with Qatar and the United States, the EU has been able to almost reach its target of 80 percent of gas storage.
According to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) released on August 21, European gas storage levels were 77.4 percent full last Sunday.
However, the EU still faces challenges this upcoming winter.
“Europe remains dependent on two things: how cold the winter will be and how Russian flows will evolve into spring. Uncertainty on both will likely keep prices supported even if inventories keep rising over the coming months,” UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo told Reuters.
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