Gas prices surging due to potential Russian invasion of Ukraine
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced crisis measures for the bloc to cope with a loss of gas supplies if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to cut the flow. These fears come as Moscow, the EU’s largest supplier of energy, squeezed the supply the gas flowing the bloc for the past few months, pushing wholesale gas prices to record highs. Since late December, the flow of gas from the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which usually travels west from Russia to Europe, has reversed, according to data from German network operator Gascade.
On Tuesday, Ms von der Leyen said: “Our models now show that for partial disruption or further decrease of gas deliveries by Gazprom, we are now rather on the safe side.”
Russia, which supplies about 40 percent of the bloc’s energy needs, has been accused in recent months of “weaponising” its supplies in order to push through the certification of Nord Stream 2.
Nord Stream 2 (NS2) is an £8billion pipeline that will transit gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland on its route through the Baltic Sea.
The controversial deal was struck back when Angela Merkel was German Chancellor, a move that was torn apart by critics who feared it would make the EU even more dependent on Russian gas.
This dependency on Russian gas has been blamed by experts for the EU’s slow response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
The West has been scrambling to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine after it emerged that 140,000 troops were stationed at the Russia-Ukraine border.
The Kremlin claimed yesterday that it had started pulling back some of these forces.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is in Brussels for talks with NATO defence leaders but said there was not yet any evidence of troops withdrawing from positions near the Ukrainian border.
Mr Wallace told LBC: “Russia has the size of forces now gathered and at readiness, locked and loaded to some extent, ready to go should they wish to do so.
“The Russian build-up would have been sufficient from the 15th of February to have conducted an overwhelming invasion of Ukraine.”
The EU is currently negotiating with countries around the world, including the US, Qatar, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and South Korea about increasing the deliveries of gas, likely through shipping or contract swaps.
Ms Von der Leyen added: “We have also spoken to major suppliers of LNG… in order to ask whether we could swap contracts in favour of the EU.
“These efforts are now distinctly paying off.”
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She added that Japan was interested in working with the EU on this, as the country last week stated that it would divert some cargoes of gas toward Europe.
Ms von der Leyen tweeted: “We work closely to foster de-escalation of the situation around Ukraine and to guarantee Europe’s energy security.
“I welcome Japan’s decision to share its energy surplus with Europe, as a token of solidarity.”
A statement from the EU read: “Prime Minister Kishida stated that he decided to share the surplus of LNG with Europe to show solidarity with allies and like-minded partners who share values, and the two leaders confirmed that they would continue to cooperate to ensure energy security”.
This deal has eased the devastating impact that Russia could have by cutting gas supplies.
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