Kainat Durrani & Bilal Satti

The Russia-Ukraine crisis is not new to anyone. Daily, new developments take place. Recently, Russia cut off its energy supply pipelines to Europe, resulting in a severe energy crisis all over the European region.

Russia stepped by step to reduce the gas supply and cut it off entirely at the beginning of September 2022. Russia has said that it would resume the supply if the western bloc would remove all sanctions imposed on Russia due to the Ukraine crisis.

Europe has accused Russia of energy weaponizing. The European Union has been making new policies and contracts to pass this energy crisis and become independent.

But this will not be easy as winter is coming, and there is a need for gas and power at all levels. Therefore, all European states must fight through this together by switching to new routes for supply pipelines, working with new donors, minimizing the overall energy use, and making long-lasting policies for energy independence.

Foreword

Gas is a crucial resource that the European energy sector uses to generate power and heat homes and businesses.

Gas use is anticipated to be prevalent through 2050 because Europe views gas as a technology that can bridge the gap between electricity and heating while emitting fewer emissions than other fossil fuels.

Roughly 34% of the gas used in Europe is imported from Russia. 40% of the natural gas used in Europe is generally supplied via pipelines from Russia. There were over 155 billion cubic meters of deliveries in 2017.

Europe is currently experiencing its biggest energy crisis in decades due to the natural gas supplies from Russia being variable and unreliable even before the conflict in Ukraine began. Recently, all of these sources have been cut off.

According to Russia, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline won’t fully start up again until the “collective West” lifts its economic sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline has heavily influenced the ongoing economic battle between Russia and the West.

Several European nations, including Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland, have had their supplies cut off by Russia.

In addition, since beginning what, Moscow refers to as its “special military operation” and west as “military invasion Ukraine’, the gas flows through other pipelines have decreased as well.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline interference by Russia in natural gas supplies has compelled the European governments to prioritize coordinated demand reduction initiatives before the winter and boost financial support for homes and utilities.

By importing electricity through interconnectors from their neighbors or by increasing power generation from nuclear, renewables, hydropower, or coal, several European nations can try to cover any shortfall in their energy sources.

The Nord Stream 1 Pipeline

Around 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline run beneath the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to northeastern Germany.

It started operating in 2011 and has a maximum daily capacity of 170 million cubic meters of gas from Russia to Germany.

A crucial gas pipeline used by Gazprom to transport gas to Germany and other European countries and pass via Belarus and Poland was shut down in May.

Then, in June, it reduced the amount of gas sent through Nord Stream 1 by 75%, from 170 million cubic meters per day to about 40 million. Then, in July, it took Nord Stream 1 offline for ten days due to maintenance requirements.

Due to what it claimed to be malfunctioning equipment, Gazprom cut the volume provided in half shortly after reopening, to 20 million cubic meters. All gas shipments through the pipeline to Europe have now been suspended totally.

Gazprom Compressor

On September 2, Russia shut down the final compressor at its state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, because of an oil spill.

European politicians are currently rushing to acquire underground gas storage facilities to have enough fuel to keep households warm during the colder months.

Gas travels mostly through Ukraine to Austria, Italy, Slovakia, and other east European nations. The Sokhranovka transit pipeline, which passes through Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine’s east, has been shut off.

Europe at the energy crisis

The danger of longer-term delivery degradation for the european region was made worse by the Nord Stream 1 pipeline’s brief maintenance closure in early July.

Italy and Germany, two of the biggest economies in the eurozone, continue to be particularly susceptible.

The fundamental purpose of summer gas imports is to top off reserves essential to meet the higher winter gas demand.

Also, read: EU accuses Russia of energy weaponization

Gas rationing will be necessary if domestic and foreign gas output together exceeds domestic gas demand when stocks are depleted.

The EU has a strategy to prioritize household consumption in such a scenario (for electricity production, heating, or other necessary purposes).

This would entail a (partial or possibly complete) suspension of the output of energy-intensive industries, which would negatively impact employment and thwart the post-pandemic recovery in labor markets.

Alternate Eenergy Options

European nations have been looking for alternate sources of supply, including some that Russia cut off after they refused a demand that they pay in roubles. Others, such as Germany, are working on restocking gas reserves before the winter.

The Yamal-Europe pipeline crosses Belarus and Poland to reach Germany and is one of the other routes to Europe that avoids Ukraine.

A sixth of Russian gas exports to Europe, or 33 billion cubic meters (bcm), are transported through the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Since the beginning of this year, flows between Poland and Germany have been reversed to flow eastward.

The owner of the Polish portion of the Yamal-Europe pipeline is under sanctions from Moscow. Poland, though, can live without the Yamal pipeline’s reverse gas flow.

Conclusion

The inexpensive natural gas that the continent has been relying on for years to fuel companies provide electricity, and Russia has shut off heat homes.

As a result of Russia cutting off the Nord Stream 1 pipeline supply, European governments are scrambling desperately to find replacements and measures to mitigate the effects as the economy contracts, and utility costs rise.

When Russia’s state-owned gas exporter Gazprom announced that the major pipeline carrying gas to Germany would remain closed, blaming an oil leak and asserting that the issues could not be addressed due to sanctions prohibiting numerous business contacts with Russia, the crisis grew more serious.

According to European officials, this is energy blackmail intended to divide and pressure the European Union as it defends Ukraine against Russian invasion.

To reclaim its energy supply, Russia has requested that the allied western nations lift their sanctions against it.

Because of this winter’s record-high inflation brought on by high energy prices, consumers will have less money to spend as food, fuel, and utilities rise.

An economy that is currently struggling could suffer more significant damage from a total stoppage. Europe must devise new strategies to make up for the decreased supply from overseas.

Multiple regions such as Britain, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands are willing to supply gas via pipelines. Moreover, Europe will have to make drastic changes in the overall region to survive through these shortcomings.

Europe would need to make up for them as well. European countries will need to work together fast if they survive the winter relatively unscathed.

Recommendations

The European states need to take immediate measures to survive through the Russian gas and power supply cut off in Europe. Some of the recommendations for European states are;

  1. Establish auction mechanisms to encourage European Union industrial gas users to cut demand. Industrial gas users can offer a portion of the gas they have contracted to buy as products. This would reduce demand in exchange for payment. It could result in efficiency gains and a competitive bidding process. Germany had already devised the suction models, and the Netherlands had put them out.
  2. Reduce gas consumption in the electricity sector. It was temporarily increasing coal and oil-fired generation while speeding up the deployment of low-carbon sources. Such as nuclear power, where it is technically possible, is one way to do this.
  3. Improve coordination between gas and electricity providers in Europe, notably concerning peak-shaving techniques. Thus, decreasing gas use might have less effect on the power systems. The operation of thermal power plants at the national and European levels should be subject to rigorous collaboration.
  4. Reduce domestic electricity usage by establishing cooling guidelines and restrictions. In this regard, government and public buildings can set the example, and campaigns should promote consumer behavior improvements.
  5. Synchronize national and European emergency planning across the EU. This ought to include measures for supply restrictions and solidarity systems. The EU must work jointly to resolve the current problem.

 

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