Putin outsmarted as EU poised to slash dependency on Russian gas

Ukraine: Phil Jones predicts war will end with Putin being ousted

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The bloc is largely reliant on Russia for its gas, with its exports accounting for 40 percent of its total supplies. Now, there are fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could cut the gas travelling into Europe amid the “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine. Ukraine is a key transit country for Russian gas to reach the EU, with a third of supplies passing through the country via pipelines.

The West is also terrified that Putin will seek revenge for the “harsh” sanctions that look set to batter the Russian economy.

The EU also imports 35 percent of its crude oil and more than 40 percent of its coal from Russia.

And with fears EU gas reserves are dropping below 30 percent, it appears the bloc may no longer be able to rely on Russia for secure supplies.

Now, the EU may cut energy ties with Russia as it looks for more reliable partners.

One proposed measure involves boosting trade with other exporters of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Barbara Pompili, French Minister for the ecological transition, said: “Next winter, the member states and the Commission will step up their coordination to reinforce our capacity for importing LNG for instance.

“We will have to use our terminals as best we can, we have to fill those terminals, we have to increase our stocks.

“And we have to have more trade with exporting producer countries.”

The EU’s Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, while agreeing that the current enery situation is “tense”, has claimed the EU will be able to get through the winter even if Russia slashes all its supplies.

Ms Simson said: “The EU can get through this winter safely. At the moment, gas flows from east to west continue, liquified natural gas (LNG) deliveries to the EU have increased significantly, and the weather forecast is favourable.”

The US had encouraged foreign LNG exporters like Qatar and Japan to ramp up production so that they could send gas to Europe in the event that Russia invades Ukraine.

And exports hit a record high in January at more than 16 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Sony Kapoor from the European University Institute in Italy, doubts that Europe would be safe if Putin turned off the tap.

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He said: The biggest leverage [Russian president Vladimir] Putin has over Europe’s head is the ability to turn off the gas”

Mr Kapoor added that the move would be a “complete disaster for the European economy”.
The Bruegel think tank suggested three scenarios that could come about if Europe completely slashed ties with Europe.

The first suggested that with no Russian gas imports, the EU would have to slash its energy demand by 10-15 percent of the annual total.

With limited imports, Russia’s pipelines would be operating at full capacity and would see its profits soar as limited supplies would push up the prices.
But with a standard level of Russian imports, EU storage could be “easily replenished” and would result in lower prices.

Putin’s energy sector has also been weakened after it unleashed havoc on Ukraine.

Energy giant Shell announced it would put an end to all joint-ventures with Russian gas conglomerate Gazprom, including pulling out of the £8billion Nord Stream 2 project.

It also withdrew its 27.5 stake in a major liquefied natural (LNG) gas plant Sakhalin-II, as well as a 50 percent stake in the Salym Petroleum Development and the Gydan energy venture.

BP has also announced it would abandon its nearly 20 percent stake in the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

According to some estimates, the move could cost Russia around £18billion.

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