which EU countries will be most affected?
Russia has cut gas supplies to several European countries. While some Central and Eastern European countries are facing shortages, the poorest are struggling with soaring energy prices.
As Russia continues to cut its gas supply to Europe, countries across the continent have started implementing contingency plans that include reopening coal-fired power plants and extending reactor life. nuclear.
After cutting gas supplies to several Northern and Eastern European countries earlier this year, Russia has now reduced gas deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 20% of its capacity. A turbine used to run the pipeline and which was due to be returned to Russian state-owned Gazprom after maintenance in Canada has been stuck in Germany, with the government saying Gazprom failed to provide the necessary documents to retrieve it. Russia, for its part, blamed the standoff on Western sanctions.
At the end of July, European Union governments pledged to cut gas consumption by 15% by next March – a voluntary target aimed at showing a united front in the face of what EU officials see as a energetic blackmail by Russia over the bloc’s sanctions.
The European Commission’s initial proposal included a provision that would have allowed it to impose the targets as mandatory in an emergency. Instead, the decision would now have to be approved by the head of state of every country except Hungary, which would make it much more difficult to implement a truly coordinated rationing system.
We take a look at how EU countries have been affected so far and the main challenges they will face ahead of winter.
Before the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Austria was heavily dependent on Russian gas. Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler said this week that the country had succeeded in reducing this dependency by 80 to 50%.
As Russia’s state-owned Gazprom failed to supply gas to fill Austria’s storage capacity before winter, the government allowed other companies to use it.
Austria has also announced its intention to run its Mellach power plant on coal this winter, following its conversion to a gas plant in 2020.
Belgium only depended on Russia for around 6% of its gas and is more of a hub for supplies to other countries in the European Union.
The Belgian port of Zeebrugge is a major import center for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Much of it is supplied by Qatar.
Nevertheless, high gas prices have affected households and industry.
At the end of April, Bulgaria was among the first EU countries to be cut off from Russian gas for refusing to pay for it in rubles.
Dependent on Russian gas for about 90%, Bulgaria has intensified its purchases of LNG, taking an interest in suppliers such as the United States.
It has also increased the capacity of a pipeline that runs from the giant Azerbaijani field in the Caspian Sea.
Croatia passed a law in June to allow the construction of an LNG terminal in a bid to wean itself off Russian gas.
At just over 50%, Croatia’s gas storage levels were among the lowest in the EU at the start of August – a far cry from the overall EU target of at least 80 %.
The country is almost 100% dependent on Russian gas, but most buyers buy gas through foreign traders rather than directly from Gazprom.
A transit country, the Czech Republic connects northern Germany to southern Germany and Slovakia, from where gas flows to Austria and Italy. Earlier this year it reported a drop in gas transit, but importers said supplies had remained stable.
Denmark was also cut off from Russian gas after the Danish multinational Ørsted refused to pay in roubles.
The country has pledged to quickly restart its Tyra gas field in a bid to become independent of Russian supplies, but that plan has faced delays of up to nine months and is expected to reopen in the last quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Despite their dependence on Russian gas, the Baltic states have announced they will stop all imports from Russia in April.
Russia supplied gas to Latvia via Estonia and Lithuania, while Estonia was the most dependent on Russia for its gas supply.
Latvia, which was due to stop all imports from Russia in early 2023, was cut off from Russian gas in late July, citing the country’s failure to meet “gas extraction conditions”.
Finland was cut off from Russian gas in May after refusing to comply with Gazprom’s demand to pay in roubles. This decision coincided with Helsinki’s efforts to join NATO.
Finland depends on Russian gas for only 5% of its energy needs.
With around 17% of its supply coming from Russia, France is less dependent than other major European economies such as Germany and Italy.
France has secured its gas storage from Qatar and other countries sourcing via Norway. It signed an energy cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates and announced its intention to increase nuclear energy production. However, those plans have been disrupted by recent heat waves, which have caused river temperatures to soar.
Until the start of the war in Ukraine, Germany’s dependence on Russian gas was a political choice. This dependency has now been reduced from 55% to a still high level of around 30%.
In early August, the country brought a coal-fired power plant back into operation as gas supplies from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline dwindled further.
The coal-fired power plant, located in Lower Saxony, has been given temporary permission to operate until April 2023 to supply energy to at least half a million families.
German cities have reduced lighting and hot water to try to avoid worst-case winter scenarios.
Greece depends on Russia for 40% of its gas, two-thirds of which is used for electricity generation. So far, the country has not experienced any interruption in its supply.
Greece has managed to replace a fair amount of Russian gas by increasing LNG imports and plans to implement rotating blackouts in the event of a supply disruption.
Dependent about 85% on Russian gas, Hungary has opposed EU sanctions on the country’s gas imports.
Behind in securing gas storage ahead of winter, Hungary expects to sign a new deal with Russia this summer for new supplies.
Ireland and Malta
The island countries are not very dependent on Russian gas and are not connected to mainland European gas pipelines. Ireland, for example, gets most of its gas from the North Sea.
Italy has reduced much of its dependence on Russian gas from 40% at the start of the year to around 25% – which still exposes it to the Russian cut.
The country has sought to strike a new deal to obtain gas from Algeria and has stepped up its LNG imports. He also plans to get more from Azerbaijan.
The small central European state’s dependence on Russian gas was between 5 and 10 percent of total consumption in 2020. It does not expect to have to implement cuts or a significant drop in GDP .
The Netherlands has struck deals to buy more LNG to limit its dependence on Russian gas, while running a campaign urging citizens to save energy, for example by taking shorter showers.
Before the crisis, the government had planned to shut down a giant gas field in the country’s north, Groningen, due to local opposition to the environmental threats it posed, including earthquakes. The plan to permanently close the site has now been abandoned.
Alongside Bulgaria, Poland was the first EU country to be cut off from Russian gas in April. By early August, it had almost filled its storage capacity to 100%.
Most of Poland’s electricity needs are met, controversially, by coal-fired power plants. It also has an LNG terminal in Świnoujście through which it imports gas from the United States, Qatar, Egypt and Israel.
Portugal and Spain
Neither country on the Iberian Peninsula relies on Russia for its gas, but both have suffered from an increase in the cost of LNG imports.
Romania turns to Russia in winter to cover around 20% of its gas needs, but has significant reserves both offshore and on land.
Earlier this year, the Romanian government passed a law to facilitate mining in the Black Sea.
Although they are less vulnerable to a Russian gas cut than other countries, rising energy costs pose a challenge to the country’s economy, while gas export facilities are still under -developed.
Slovakia and Slovenia
Both countries rely on Russia to cover around 60% of their gas needs.
In Slovenia, the government has implemented measures to achieve energy savings of around 10%. Slovakia has announced that it will import gas from other suppliers, including Norway.
Sweden, which has a common gas market with Denmark, is heavily dependent on Russian gas, but is currently well supplied ahead of winter, with reserves 90% full.
Source: World TRT