Gas from Russia becoming a political ball game.
In view of the empty natural gas storage facilities, the increasing gas price, Nord Stream 2 coould bring a solution to get the prices down by an increased supply and quickly filled up natural gas storage facilities. In 2021, gas prices in Europe, hitting record highs in October as tight gas supplies coincided with strong demand in economies recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, have risen by more than 500%, which hit small and medium incomes particularly hard. Especially in the winter months, many people are dependent on natural gas for heating their homes.
Most European governments responded with emergency measures, such as subsidies or tax breaks, to protect households from higher energy bills. Countries including Spain and France have also called for the EU to allow them to jointly buy gas and form strategic reserves to bolster their supplies.
Gas represents 21.5% of EU’s primary energy consumption. It is the dominant source of energy for households (32.1%). In 2020, gross inland consumption of natural gas in the EU decreased by 2.7 % compared with 2019, whilst natural gas dependency in EU was 83.5 % in 2020, down from 89.5 % in 2019. The EU imports 80% of its total gas needs. Domestic production has halved in the last 10 years.
Storage capacity in the EU is unevenly distributed with large facilities in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, but interconnection by pipelines means member states can use stored gas in neighbouring countries.
On this occasion, a key element to the conflict with Russia is the question of the transit of Russian gas to Western Europe. We need the gas and Russia can use our money. We also need the export of our fruits and vegetables.
Russian gas – which the USSR-built Ukrainian infrastructure was built based upon (mostly through domestic heating and industrial applications) – has been used as a tool by Russian imperialism to exert its control on Kyiv.
The recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline can deliver gas from the Russian Baltic coast directly to Germany. While Kyiv (Kiev) has maintained the line that it is at war with Russia over the question of Donbas separatism, Russian gas has never ceased transiting through Ukraine to the West – even as Ukraine has begun buying the same Russian gas through EU third parties (at EU prices!). Over the past decade, Russia has been seeking to bypass the so-called ‘transit countries’ of Ukraine and Belarus using the Nord Stream pipelines, with transit via Ukraine having fallen a further 25 percent in 2021.
In 2021, the fate of the project of Gazprom and five European financial firms came to be finally decided. In an atmosphere of sharply aggravated political discussions in the EU, the pipe-laying ship Fortuna in early February resumed laying pipes in the Baltic waters of Denmark, interrupted for more than a year due to US sanctions.
In February the Akademik Chersky pipelayer had left the Far Eastern port of Nakhodka towards the Baltic. It took almost a year to undergo modernisation in German ports and test new equipment several times off the coast of the Kaliningrad region.
Gazprom pledged to export 40 billion cubic meters annually through Ukraine by the end of 2024 or pay for this booked volume.
The construction of Nord Stream 2, with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year, was completed in early September 2021 and as such could deliver Europe the necessary gas and bring the augmented prices down again. The current German authorities have taken significant steps to slow down their consideration of the issue of using the pipeline. In this state of affairs, the work of the gas pipeline will be suspended.
Europe has her hope set on extra Norwegian gas via Denmark to Poland, which intends to completely stop purchasing from Gazprom.
Along with pipeline gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is increasingly being exported from Russia to the European market.
At the 23rd EU-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv at the end of last year, the European Union and Ukraine reaffirmed their strong partnership and commitment to strengthening the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union. This is not taken in thanks by Putin and would prefer to see that Ukraine builds up a ‘special partnership’ with Russia.
While shelling has increased along the Donbas front lines, an invasion looked very unlikely at this time, but rumours are that Russia sent people into Ukraine to have them shoot at Russia so that they would have reason to react and to attack Ukraine. Facing this Russian debacle and the possibility that China would invade Taiwan the west lie in a particularly precarious situation.
More than 92,000 troops could be seen amassed around Ukraine’s borders giving the impression that it is this time very serious, Russia preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February, though they keep denying it. Russia is building capacity to attack.
Such an attack would likely involve airstrikes, artillery and armour attacks followed by airborne assaults in the east, amphibious assaults in Odessa and Mariupul and a smaller incursion through neighbouring Belarus, Ukraine Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told Military Times Saturday morning in an exclusive interview.
Roman Mashovets, deputy head of Ukraine’s Office of the President for national security and defense, told Military Times Wednesday that the Russians are nearing the “strategic encirclement of the territory of Ukraine.”
“Despite the sanctions and great concern of Western countries, the Russian Federation has almost realised its intentions regarding the strategic encirclement of the territory of Ukraine, including from the territory of Belarus, and continues to prepare the offensive actions on the Ukrainian territory.”
It seems that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for for a potential invasion. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference that Russian
“influence actors are already started to fabricate Ukrainian provocations in both state and social media, to try to justify, in advance, some sort of pretext for incursion.”
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