Gazprom, Russia’s energy powerhouse, began natural gas exports via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Thursday.
This provided some solace to the European Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin was suspected of attempting to exacerbate European gas shortages as retaliation against support for Ukraine by keeping the pipelines closed after repairs.
In spite of the fact the European Union may have avoided an energy hole, for the time being, the prospect of a Russian energy shutdown remains genuine.
The EU, which relied on Russia for roughly half of its natural gas imports last year, is aware of its dependence on the Russian leader.
Europe has spent the last year attempting to diversify its supplies.
Italy struck a $4 billion contract with Algeria last week to enhance gas supplies from the North African country, while France negotiated an energy cooperation deal with the UAE.
The European Union plans to increase its purchases of natural gas from Azerbaijan by 2027 in order to avoid being blackmailed by Russia.
Impressive: In the last 4 months, EU countries have reduced their import of Russian #oil and (involuntarily) #gas from €700m/day to €200m/day, according to CREA estimates.https://t.co/d7s3bRwkTU pic.twitter.com/7qaY4nWhel
— Janis Kluge (@jakluge) July 22, 2022
Nevertheless, locating alternative suppliers is only half the struggle.
The EU must also take supply-side steps, such as urging its members to use less gas during the summer months in order to retain bigger stocks for the winter.
A new proposal from the European Commission says natural gas use in Europe should be cut by 15% by spring of next year and required in case of an emergency.
Nonetheless, a number of EU member states are unhappy with the European Commission’s plan.
Greece disagrees with the assumption that all states should be subjected to the same benchmark, especially because Athens has taken precautions and planned for any shortages.
Portugal is dissatisfied with the dearth of information prior to the proposal’s presentation.
Spain, which has the infrastructure to increase non-Russia LNG imports, does not enjoy being forced to make sacrifices for nations like Germany, which, up until recently, was generally content to cuddle with the Russian bear.
Hungary, on the other hand, is practically disobeying a directive from Brussels bureaucrats. The Orban government is not only searching for additional Russian gas, but is also blocking any of its shipments from being utilized to aid countries experiencing a supply deficit.
It's not Russia blocking the export of oil and gas, it's the EU trying to strangle the Russian economy by blocking the import of Russian gas and oil.
I mean, this is crazy, absolutely bizarre. https://t.co/Fjycv86Do0
— Sašo Ornik (@ornik_saso) July 20, 2022
The European Leaders
There will be a vote on the commission’s proposal the following week. It’s safe to say, though, that based on rumors of the whip count, Brussels will likely have to rethink its strategy.
So far, the EU has demonstrated an astonishing degree of solidarity toward the war. Russia’s despicable behavior throughout the war and its propensity to target civilian buildings with bombs made it much easier to reach this sort of agreement.
As the war persists through the fall, though, “Ukraine weariness” is likely to develop in European capitals.
In a way, it has already occurred. From the perspective of moralists, this is unjustifiable, but it is also an unavoidable consequence of the conflict, which has worsened a limited oil supply, rising food costs, and soaring inflation.
Putin enjoys the privilege of functioning in an authoritarian regime that he himself designed. However, European governments are answerable to their citizens.
The EU is fond of discussing solidarity. However, as the energy debates demonstrate, competing national interests may be a formidable force.
This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.