Ten steps to reduce EU’s dependence on Russian gas

Ten steps to reduce EU’s dependence on Russian gas

Sergey Savchuk

Against the backdrop of well-known events, the collective West is rushing from side to side until the crunch of the meat being torn off in search of alternatives to Russian energy sources. The Internati-onal Energy Agency (IE-A) has published a policy paper with the catchy title Ten Steps to Reduce the European Union’s Depe-ndence on Russian Gas. This declaration fully ref-lects the surreal quixotic nature of European politi-cs, where leaders of countries sitting on a staggeri-ng horse attack windm-ills, which are logic, the laws of physics and stubborn statistics. Let’s look at the points, what is the recipe for a saving panac-ea, offered to Europe.
So, point one. It is forbidden to conclude new contracts with Gazprom for the supply of natural gas.
Outside immediately cli-mb big oddities. In particular, the report states for some reason that Gazpr-om’s contract for 15 billion cubic meters is expiring this year, and we can only talk about Poland here. The latter has already shouted to the ears of the whole world that it is absolutely, guaranteed, in no case will conclude a new long-term contract. At the same time, Warsaw has never demonstrated a decrease in the volume of purchases of Russian gas, LNG supplies from the United Statesshamefully hidden in a chest of memory, and new deposits in Poland have not been found. How the government is going to replace the annual ten to twelve billion cubic meters from the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline is absolutely incomprehensible. Against this background, the Polish side’s regular, alarming reports that Gazprom has refused to reserve transit capacities for the next trading period acquire a particularly expressive subtext.
An even more mysterio-us point is also indicated here that by the end of the decade, the Russian mono-polist will expire contracts for deliveries of 40 billion cubic meters. The only option that comes to mind is Ukraine, under an agreement with which Russia annually pumps those same forty billion until the end of 2024. It is not entirely clear what exactly should scare Russia here, given that the preservation of Ukrainian transit was the main demand of the West during the discussion of the launch of Nord Stream 2. An extr-emely characteristic fact is that with the start of a special operation on the territory of Ukraine, the pumping of gas to Europedidn’t stop for a second. Moreover, according to Gazprom, transit even increased significantly – from 89 to 109.5 million cubic meters per day. The Ukrainian propaganda machine bypasses this circumstance in the tenth way, trying to confuse people who are ignorant of the supposedly existing ban on the export of blue fuel. This is another lie of Kiev, because the ban on gas supplies abroad applies exclusively to gas located in underground storage facilities in the western regions and owned by Ukrainian companies, and the transit pipe works like a Swiss watch.
The drafters of the document are confident that the end of the (not directly named) Polish and Ukrainian agreement will force Russia to reduce the mandatory volumes of gas supplied under the “take or pay” formula. Where this conclusion came from, again, is not clear.
At the same time, behind the scenes, really large and really significant long-term contracts blink their eyes in bewilderment – for example, Germany, which has four long-term agreements concluded right up to 2035. Statistics for 2021 report that Berlin imported142 billion cubic meters of gas, and the share of Russian supplies in different periods varied from 32 to 50 percent. Another prickly figure says that the German industry and the population consumes only 74 billion, and the rest Berlin, whose total UGS volume is a modest 24 billion, resells further. In the current environment, when gas futures prices for April are firmly entrenched at the mark of three thousand dollars, Berlin can count on making super profits. It would be strange to think that Germany, which has been continuously receiving blue fuel from Russia since 1973, will refuse such a tasty morsel.
Austria should be added to the same picture. Former chancellor Sebastian Kurz has done everything possible for his country to conclude a gas contract that will end as early as 2040. Austria is one of the main beneficiaries of the launch of Nord Stream 2: according to available information, almost 50 billion cubic meters of such valuable fuel will go to Austrian storage facilities. That is why Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, with the start of the sanctions carousel, immediately stated that his country categorically refuses to impose restrictions on cooperation with the Russian energy sector.
Still, in front of Vienna and Berlin, which receive gas at an average price of $300 per thousand cubic m-eters, business with a margin of 500 percent looms.
Point two. Replace Russian supplies with gas from alternative sources.
The latter are Azerbaijan and Norway, from where the authors of the document hope to receive about ten billion cubic meters per year, and LNG, the import of which (theoretically, which is emphasized) can be increased to 60 billion. The authors do not specify where exactly additional volumes of liquefied gas will come from. Given that Qatar has already categorically denied the possibility of increasing LNG supplies, the decision becomes even more vague. Mathematics has also not been disclosed, how the theoretical 70 billion will replace the real 200 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, namely: how much, according to experts, will be gas exports this year. Point three. Introduce a mandatory minimum volume for filling own UGSFs.
According to experts from the same IEA, which are based on the temperature and consumer figures of the current year, for a smooth passage of the heating season, collective Eur-ope needs to fill underg-round storage facilities at a level of at least 90 percent of the available volume. In fact, this is a workload “u-nder cover”, and again it is absolutely unclear who will fill the underground bins. Item four. Accelerate the commissioning of solar and wind generation facilities.
An absolutely fantastic proposal, given that in Germany, for example, the share of natural gas in electricity production is 35 percent. In this regard, the initiative to massively place solar panels on the roofs of houses in order to reduce the amount of monthly payments looks, to put it mildly, a mockery. Before the eyes of Europe stands the example of Britain, whose wind and solar stations in Scotland this year were idle for weeks due to prolonged calm and cloudy weather, due to which the cost of a megawatt-hour on some days soared above two thousand pounds. Also, the mechanism for providing wind and solar electricity to, say, steel or automobile plants is not covered. Item five. To increase to the maximum values the production of energy on the basis of bio-and atomic sources.
Biologically renewable fuel is, in simple terms, firewood in all its diversity, from fallen wood to stove pellets. Seriously discussing the point of increasing wood-fired generation, which produces twice as much greenhouse gases as coal, is even somehow ashamed. As for the nuclear sector, it seems that the authors of the IEA program live in some kind of parallel universe. Because the German government has just confirmed (after a re-audit) its intention to close the last three German nuclear power plants by the end of this year. By 2035, all nuclear power plants in Belgium will stop, and this is 39 percent of the country’s energy balance. By 2034 Switzerlandwill decommission five of its aging nuclear reactors, which means minus a third of all national generation. In 2027, seven power units in Spain will stop, another 22.5 percent of electricity off. Agree, it seems that the authors of the document are talking to themselves, ignoring the real world outside the window.
On this, perhaps, we will stop, because other initiati-ves designed to eliminate Russia from the energy ma-rket are no less excellent.
Item six. Implement a short-term program to protect the public from skyrocketing electricity prices. In fact, it is proposed to simply print and distribute money.
Item seven. Carry out mass replacement of gas boilers and boiler houses with heat pumps. The IEA calculated that such a transition would save up to two billion cubic meters of gas per year. How much the technical re-equipment will cost, including the production, installation and maintenance of hundreds of thousands of heat pumps, is not reported.
Point eight. Carry out a total modernization of electrical networks in residential and industrial buildings. According to the IEA itself, 99 percent of EU buildings fall under this requirement. Item nine. Promote amo-ng the population measures to reduce the temperature in homes by one degree.
Before us is a European remake of the Ukrainian program “Screw it!” times of Petro Poroshenko, as idiotic as the original. Just because consumers can screw their home thermostats in until they’re blue in the face, the temperature of the coolant is determined at the point of its production, that is, in the boiler room. And until they make the water colder there, which is contrary to social norms, Gazprom can sleep peacefully.
Point last. Make every possible effort to diversify generation sources, focusing on environmentally friendly ones. An initiative from the “for everything good” section without the slightest specifics, which allows you to procrastinate it for years, inventing more and more sophisticated schemes for punishing Russia, from which for some reason only its own budget suffers and the discontent of the population grows. In general, there is a suspicion that we are not faced with a serious program document of the main interstate energy association of the planet, but with homework, which a C grade student scribbled in a notebook on his knee, if only the strict teacher did not put a deuce.

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