It is the most extreme energy crisis that has ever occurred in Europe as experts in global gas markets emphasize. It is obvious that the Russian natural gas cutoffs are threatening the European energy security, since losing Russia’s natural gas supply means losing a crucial energy lifeline which accounts for 40% of the European imports.
It all roots back to the Russian- Ukrainian war and Europe’s support for Ukraine, leading to a dramatic increase in energy prices which forced European countries to rely on emergency plans and backup energy suppliers like Norway and North Africa that are failing to setup. Europe is on the gates of the coldest part of the year and not having sufficient natural gas supply for heating is a nightmare for the Europeans.
Russia’s main pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2, was killed in February as Russian president Vladimir Putin prepared to invade Ukraine, leaving Nord Stream 1 as the biggest direct gas link between Russia and Europe’s biggest economy.
The crisis deepened after Nord Stream 1, the largest gas pipeline from Russia to Europe, was taken down for scheduled maintenance. European countries typically rely on the summer months to refill their gas storage facilities. And at a time of war, when the continent’s future gas supply is uncertain, having that energy cushion is especially crucial.
If Russia’s prolonged disruptions continue, experts warn of a difficult winter: one of potential rationing, industrial shutdowns, and even massive economic dislocation. In Norway, the European Union’s biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia (having the Groningen Gas field of 450 Bcf Reserve), mass strikes in the oil and gas industries forced companies to shutter production, sending further shockwaves throughout Europe.
The pain of the crisis, however, is perhaps being felt most clearly in Germany, which has been forced to turn to a number of energy-saving measures, including rationing heated water and closing swimming pools. To cope with the crunch, Berlin has already entered the second phase of its three-stage emergency gas plan.
What is waiting Europe in the upcoming months? What significant measures the European leaders will take to come out from this Nightmare?
By Ali Nasser (24, August 2022)