Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

What if Russia turns off the gas? Europe assesses its options amid


A worker adjusts a pipeline valve at the Gazprom PJSC Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in Ust-Luga, Russia, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Nord Stream 2 is a 1,230-kilometer (764-mile) gas pipeline that will double the capacity of the existing undersea route from Russian fields to Europe — the original Nord Stream — which opened in 2011.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Escalating tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the West have heightened concern about the future of Russian gas flows to the European Union, with lawmakers and energy providers scrambling to prepare contingency plans.

It comes as President Joe Biden warns there is a “distinct possibility” Russia could invade Ukraine as soon as next month and as the Kremlin says there is “little ground for optimism” after the U.S. rejected its main demands to resolve the crisis.

Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops near the border of Ukraine but denies planning to enter the former Soviet republic.

“European natural gas supplies are well below their typical norms and inventories, so a key question to ask is if Europe has enough natural gas inventory to survive,” Rob Thummel, senior portfolio manager at energy investment firm TortoiseEcofin, said in a research note.

“Given that there’s a lot of winter left, I think there are scenarios where it could become really challenging, and inventories could go really low. Europe needs Russia from an energy standpoint, and energy is so essential that it’s going to be very difficult to just cut off supplies for both sides,” he added.

For several months, Russia has been accused of intentionally disrupting gas supplies to leverage its role as a major energy supplier to Europe amid an escalating dispute with Ukraine.

Russian gas flows to Europe have been lower than typically expected for a sustained period, with political analysts suggesting that Moscow has purposefully withheld supplies in a bid to speed up certification of the highly contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Indeed, Russia’s purported role in exacerbating Europe’s energy crunch was even the subject of a rare public rebuke from the International Energy Agency, with the group calling on Russia to increase gas availability to Europe and ensure storage levels were filled to adequate levels during a period of high winter demand.

The Kremlin has repeatedly disputed claims it is using gas as a geopolitical weapon, with state-owned Gazprom saying it has fulfilled its contractual obligations to customers.

Now, as Russia-Ukraine tensions reach a fever pitch, energy analysts are deeply concerned about the risk of full supply disruption to the EU — which receives roughly 40% of its gas via Russian pipelines and several of which run through Ukraine.

What can Europe do if gas flows are disrupted?

The prospect of a supply cut-off of Russian gas is seen as likely to result in profound public health and economic consequences, particularly as such a…


Read More:
What if Russia turns off the gas? Europe assesses its options amid