The European Union wants to declare an embargo on Russian oil. The West is haunted by the fact that energy trade provides Moscow with financial stability in the face of tough sanctions. At the same time, Germany is already suffering from high gas prices – Germans are advised to shower less often and turn off the heating more often. A new problem is approaching: a shortage of gasoline in the east of the country.
Germany, like other Western countries, faced a sharp rise in energy prices immediately after the imposition of sanctions. At the end of March, the largest e-nergy concern E.ON stopp-ed buying gas from Russian companies – they relied on supplies from Norway, which would satisfy the needs of Germans in blue fuel by a third. However, according to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stere, Oslo does not have reserves to make up the deficit.
Natural gas mainly comes to Germany through Gassco pipelines – now they are almost completely loaded. To transport more, you need to increase the capacity. And this is a long and costly process.
We tried to negotiate with Qatar on liquefied natural gas (LNG) – to no avail. Exports from there go primarily to China, where they pay more. Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged that Europe cannot end energy dependence on Russia overnight. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be threatened, and entire industries will be on the brink of survival.
Sanctions should not hit the EU harder than Moscow, warned in Berlin. But that’s exactly what happened. Absolutely everything has risen in price: transport, heating, production. Inflation jumped to 7.3 percent in March, the highest in 40 years. Compared to last year, electricity costs for enterprises increased by 70 percent, and for other resources – by about 20 percent.
All this, of course, affected consumers. Prices soared not only for gas, but also for gasoline, electricity, food, furniture.
In the words of the head of the Ministry of Economy Robert Habek, the country is covered by a “new poverty”: almost one in seven Germans is facing financial difficulties. However, people were offered several ways to cope with problems – for example, save soap and water.
“Less heating the house, not going to the saunas, taking less showers. This is how we will become more independent from the supply of Russian energy so-urces – all this unclean oil and gas. This is the solution proposed by the Federal Minister of Economics of Germany, Robert Habeck,” writes the Bild newspaper.
Meanwhile, an oil embargo is on the way. The permanent representatives of the EU countries promise to introduce it from day to day, but they cannot agree in any way. The sixth package of sanctions announced by the European Comm-ission involves a phase-out of Russian oil imports – with a delay for Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. For coordination, it is necessary that all members of the union speak in favor.
According to the plan, the ban on the transportation of Russian oil by European shipping companies should come into force a month after the adoption. Insurance for such transportations will also be subject to restrictions.
However, Greece, Malta and Cyprus doubted the possibility of introducing this ban, arguing that this measure would only help EU competitors.
Queuing for petrol
In Germany, they have realized the consequences of the already imposed sanctions and warn against a new rash step. “Who is it really harming? There is a global demand for coal, oil and gas,” Michael Kretschmer, prime minister of the German federal state of Saxony, told DPA. In his opinion, purchases of energy carriers not in Russia will provoke a shortage.
“The decision will entail another round of rising prices for fuel oil and fuel, and oil from Norway or the United States is more expensive than Russian. In addition, the infrastructure will have to be radically changed,” the Junge Welt newspaper notes.
Economy Minister Habek warned that an embargo on oil from Russia could lead to a shortage of gasoline, primarily in the east of Germany. The region depends on the refinery in the city of Schwedt – the plant provides 90 percent of all deliveries of gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel to Berlin and Brandenburg. At the same time, the enterprise processes only Russian oil and is 54.17 percent owned by Rosneft. The population is preparing for the worst. Only ten percent of respondents believe that the oil embargo will force Russia to change its policy, according to a poll published by n-tv. And 75 percent are afraid that because of the ban, gasoline and diesel will disappear from German gas stations. The cessation of imports will mean that oil will become even more scarce. This is a direct path to another rise in the price of everything: heating, food, textiles, plastics, cosmetics. Some experts are already talking about “war-time inflation”. Thinking a-bout how to save fuel: cyc-ling more or tightening the speed limit on motorways. They offer to work from home three days a week, to refuse business trips, flights over short distances. And also from car trips.
Listen in Germany and to the recommendations of the International Energy Agency (IEA). They argue that the most effective measure is a ban on driving private cars in large cities. They offer, for example, to drive according to the schedule, alternating even and odd license plates.
Obviously, Germany can do without Russian oil only in the short term. So, back in February, 35 percent of all black gold entered the country from Russia. That is, Germany depended on it more than other Western states. The current share of supplies is a maximum of 12 percent of all imports.
There aren’t many alternatives. In Germany itself, oil is also extracted – in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. However, this covers only a small part of domestic needs. It is hardly worth counting on the United States: the development of new deposits takes time, it will take several years. Iran and Venezuela would be useful, but both countries are under sanctions. The Russian economy, according to analysts, has a sufficient margin of safety in order to withstand new sanctions. At the same time, as the Financial Times notes, against the backdrop of rising energy prices, restrictions risk losing all meaning. There is a possibility that the general situation on the world market will completely neutralize the “loss of the European segment” that the West loves to scare Russia with.