Moscow is using gas as a pressure factor in its war with Ukraine, head of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol has said. Europe should be prepared for a complete cutoff of gas supplies from Russia, he said.
Gas compressor station
Europe should be prepared for a complete Russian gas shutdown this coming winter, the reduction in supplies to EU countries last week should be seen as a sign of a complete shutdown, International Energy Agency (IEA) Director General Fatih Birol said in an interview with the British newspaper The Financial Times, published Wednesday, June 22.
“Moscow is trying to use gas as a pressure factor in the ongoing war with Ukraine. Europe should be ready for a complete cut-off of Russian gas. The closer we get to winter, the better we understand Russia’s intentions. I am sure the supply cuts are aimed at preventing Europe from filling up its storage facilities and increasing Russia’s influence in the winter months,” Birol said.
The IEA and the European Commission have drawn up a plan which will enable the EU to cut Russian gas consumption by two thirds by the end of the year. It involves measures ranging from increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and accelerated development of renewable energy to measures at the individual level, including replacing gas heaters with heat pumps in homes, limiting the speed of cars on highways, reducing car trips, reducing the temperature in homes by one degree Celsius and others.
Reduced supply of Russian gas
ICIS consulting company estimates that while before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia provided 40 percent of the European Union's gas needs, this figure has now dropped to 20 percent. However, the main opportunities for diversification, primarily by increasing offshore supplies of LNG, are exhausted, according to ICIS. Birol urged European governments to take steps to limit gas consumption and postpone the closure of nuclear power plants.
The EU has set a goal of filling 80% of its storage capacity with gas by November 1. Last week, when Russian supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline dropped to 40 percent, the European average fill rate was 52 percent. Meanwhile, Poland was the fastest to prepare for winter (96 percent), Germany filled storage at 58 percent, France at 56 percent, and Sweden at only 10 percent.
Full stoppage of Nord Stream will lead to the fact that the gas reserves will be completely used up as early as January 2023, and in the case of continued pumping at 40% – by the end of winter, according to Massimo Di Odoardo, vice president of gas and LNG markets analysis at Wood Mackenzie.