With the continuing Ukraine standoff and the possibility of the Russian gas supply disruption to Europe, the European Union is preparing for the energy security crisis scenario.
“Several countries are ready to step up their exports of LNG to the EU. We already reinforced our pan-European pipeline and electricity interconnector network”, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission tweeted on Wednesday, 16 February.
She assured the European public that according to the models on gas supply, the EU is now “on the safe side.”
Catching the momentum of the unfolding developments, she also reminded everyone of the benefits of the green transition, adding that a key lesson for the EU to draw from the escalating tensions with Russia is that it “must diversify energy sources and heavily invest in renewables.”
“They are clean and good for the planet. They are home-grown and good for our independence”, she noted.
The European Union imports approximately 41 per cent of its natural gas from Russia. Its capacity to balance fluctuations in demand which depends on the volumes of its gas storage, currently represents 32.22 per cent, as the latest data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows.
However, since tensions over the Ukraine-Russia issue are expected to escalate at any moment, depending on the actions of Moscow, Europe is taking steps to secure new alliances for the possible energy crunch. Additional liquid natural gas (LNG) supplies are already anticipated from Qatar and Japan, in case sanctions need to be imposed on Russia and gas supply is disrupted to the EU.
Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan confirmed that he has made the decision to share the surplus of LNG with Europe, in order to “to show solidarity with allies and like-minded partners who share values”, as informs the press statement of the European Commission.
In parallel, the EU and the United States have affirmed their commitment to proactively cooperate and address any potential risks related to energy supply in the EU and its neighbourhood, including in Ukraine and the Western Balkans, through reverse gas flows.
“In the short term, we’re in discussions with governments and major producers around the world about surging natural gas capacity, and the market itself is adjusting. These efforts are aimed at shoring up energy supply throughout Europe, including Ukraine, whose energy security is particularly threatened by Russian aggression”, said US State Secretary Antony Blinken at the United States – European Union Energy Council meeting in Washington, at the beginning of February.
While Europe’s clean energy transition and energy sector decarbonisation featured among the top issues discussed at the Council, the question of immediate threat for the EU and its Eastern neighbours’ energy security still remained dominant.
The EU expressed its trust in receiving support from the US, its largest LNG supplier at present.
“I am confident that today we can follow up on the joint statement of President Biden and President von der Leyen and identify ways to sustain strong US LNG exports to Europe in the coming months”, the Commissioner of Energy, Kadri Simson stressed at the Council.
As for Ukraine, being a strategic gas transit country for the EU, according to the statement of the Council, the integration of Ukraine into the EU’s energy market should proceed alongside the goal of improving its energy security and clean energy export potential. Support will also be provided in the synchronisation process of the electricity networks of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova with the Continental European Network. Ukraine will also receive US LNG after Poland’s oil and gas company PGNiG decided to purchase a US LNG cargo to be supplied to the Ukrainian border for Energy Resources of Ukraine (ERU).
In light of the current situation, the Energy Community has already assessed the security of supply situation for Ukraine, its Contracting Party. The Energy Community welcomed the prospect of starting physical reverse flow from Hungary and additional gas import possibilities from Slovakia, allowing Ukraine to secure capacities independently of gas transit through its territory.
In the meantime, with Russia’s promise to withdraw some of its troops from the border of Ukraine, the European gas market prices have reacted with relative stabilisation. The Independent think tank, Rystad Energy informs that imports of liquid natural gas (LNG) to Europe remain robust, sitting at 4.9 million tonnes in February.