Since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the question of importing Russian gas has been omnipresent. Dependent at 45% on exports from Russia in 2021, the European Union is seeking to emancipate itself from the gas giant Gazprom. According to Thierry Bros, energy expert and professor at Science Po Paris, interviewed by Swiss radio and television (RTS) “only two billion cubic meters of Russian gas are currently transported monthly to the EU, 1 billion by Ukraine and 1 billion via the TurkStream gas pipeline”. Against 14 billion cubic meters before the invasion in Ukraine. This decrease in deliveries is not only due to the policies pursued by the EU, but is also linked to blockages by Moscow, in particular with regard to the cessation of deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. Nevertheless, not all members of the European Union are on the same line as winter approaches.
Italy resumes imports
Starting with Italy, whose reserves are not quite full (91%). This Wednesday, October 5, Gazprom announced to resume its gas deliveries there, after an interruption on Saturday due to a technical problem on a gas pipeline passing through Austria. In detail, the blockage was due “to the fact that Gazprom should have given a monetary guarantee for the passage of gas to the carrier bringing it from Austria to Italy, which did not exist before, and Gazprom did not pay”. , explained on Monday the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi. A difficulty far from being linked to diplomatic issues according to the company.
But if Italy is still very dependent on Russia, the CEO of Eni has repeatedly specified the group’s objective of arriving, by the winter of 2024/2025, to replace 100% of Russian gas. From this winter, Italy should halve its dependence (21 billion cubic meters out of a total of 29 billion cubic meters imported by Italy), according to the announcements of the Eni group which has already turned towards Algeria, doubling its imports.
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Hungary and Serbia still powered by TurkStream
If Italy seeks to get rid of its dependence on Russian gas, other EU countries, including Hungary has immediately announced that it cannot do without. The country, which depends nearly 85% on Russian gas exports, also announced at the end of August that it had signed an agreement with Gazprom to receive additional deliveries. Blocked by the shutdown of Nord Stream 1 and 2, the country is now moving through the TurkStream gas pipeline, which passes through the Baltic Sea. The supply “is now increased by 5.8 million cubic meters,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on August 31. The pact is also scheduled for October.
Hungary is also the only EU country to have opposed the signing of an agreement by the 27 aimed at voluntarily reducing the union’s consumption of Russian gas. A measure that she considers “unjustifiable, unnecessary, inapplicable and harmful”.
Also contrary to the EU, Serbia (candidate for membership for ten years) signed an agreement with Gazprom in June to extend its supplies of Russian gas by three years, ignoring the sanctions of the European community. The country has also obtained preferential tariffs. According to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, his country pays three times less for its gas from Russia than the rest of the importers.
46 billion dollars spent by the EU on Russian gas
Germany was also heavily dependent on Russian gas, up to 55%, before the war in Ukraine. But the shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines prompted Berlin to open up to other sources of supply, including the construction of platforms for liquefied gas. This year, five projects have been launched by the government at great expense to compensate for the end of Gazprom’s deliveries. This should enable it from next year to deliver nearly 25 billion cubic meters per year, or half of Nord Stream’s capacity.
France, whose gas reserves are 97.43% full for this winter according to the gas database Infrastructure Europe has also succeeded in sourcing differently, almost bypassing Russia. From 17%, the hexagon rose to 7% of Russian gas imports at the end of August, until the Nord Stream gas pipeline ceased to operate at the beginning of September and completely cut off this supply.
Besides France, Belgium (100%), Portugal (100%) and Poland (98.03%) have their reserves almost full. On average, the countries of the European Union have filled their storage capacity to 89%, in anticipation of an unprecedented winter without Russian gas.
Nevertheless, according to a report published in early September by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), imports of Russian fossil fuels into the European Union have crossed the $100 billion mark since the invasion of Ukraine, including $46.6 billion attributed to the import of gas. This makes the EU the largest importer of fossil fuels (85.1 billion euros), followed by China (34.9 billion euros) and Turkey (10.7 billion euros). ).
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