This AP article today quotes me (about half way in, marked in red) on Nord Stream 2, on Putin acting like the EU’s “gas godfather,” and on the implications for the EU gas crisis. It’s in numerous USA local papers. A nice job by AP’s DAVID McHUGH (Frankfurt) and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV (Moscow).
FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe is short of natural gas — dangerously short. A cold winter could mean a severe crunch, and utility bills are headed higher, burdening ordinary people and weighing on the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to help fill European gas storages as energy prices soar — but supply shortages and political tensions have continued to rattle energy markets, keeping prices high. That’s pinched businesses and forced them to pass along costs to customers already facing higher bills at home.
With Europe dependent on imported gas and Russia supplying 40% or more of those imports, Putin has leverage. He’s said the new pipeline already is filled with gas and could help increase supplies “the day after” it’s approved.
Here are important factors behind the gas crisis:
HOW DID EUROPE GET INTO THIS MESS?
Multiple reasons. One was a cold winter that drained gas reserves, which are used to generate electrical power and typically replenished in summer. That didn’t happen this year.
Hot weather drained more gas than usual through demand for air conditioning. Less wind meant less renewable electricity, leading generators to reach for gas fuel. Limited supplies of liquid natural gas, an expensive option that can be delivered by ship instead of pipeline, were snapped up by customers in Asia.
On top of that, Europe for years has pushed for day-to-day spot pricing, instead of long-term contracts. Russian-controlled gas giant Gazprom has fulfilled those long-term contracts but hasn’t pumped additional gas beyond that. Putin says customers who have those contracts pay much less for gas than other buyers.
Prices were seven times higher in October than they were at the beginning of the year and have eased to about four times higher lately.Continue reading