MOSCOW, 6 Oct — PRIME, Andrey Karabyants. Norway and its gas counterparties have not in vain strengthened the protection of pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure: after the reduction of Russian supplies, Norwegian gas remains “Europe’s last hope” to survive the coming winter. First of all, it is worth fearing new sabotage by the United States.
The sabotage on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines completely deprived Europe of the opportunity to import Russian gas in large volumes. Pipelines laid on the bottom of the Baltic Sea directly from Russia to Germany could provide 20% of all Europe’s gas needs. Nord Stream, the operator of Nord Stream, said the damage could not be assessed at this time, but the damage was very serious and would take a long time to repair.
The authorities of Germany, Denmark and Sweden are also inclined to believe that the gas pipelines were damaged as a result of sabotage.
“All available information, according to the federal government, indicates that we are dealing with a deliberate act of sabotage,” German government spokeswoman Christina Huffmann said.
SALVATION COMES FROM NORWAY
Now gas supplies from Russia to Europe are carried out only along two routes – through the gas transmission system of Ukraine and through the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. At the end of March, due to Poland’s unwillingness to pay for gas in Russian rubles, Gazprom stopped deliveries via the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.
In her last public speech, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that before the start of the special operation in Ukraine, Russia accounted for 41% of EU gas imports, and now only 7.5%. It was possible to reduce dependence on Russia thanks to the supply of Norwegian gas and American LNG.
Thus, Russia has ceased to be the largest supplier of natural gas to the European Union (EU), giving way to Norway. It is Norwegian gas that helps Europe overcome the consequences of reduced supplies from Russia.
This country now provides 25% of the EU’s gas needs. Back in the summer, after cutting supplies from Russia, the Norwegian government promised to increase gas production this year to a record level of 122 billion cubic meters. m. Then the authorities of Norway and the EU reached an agreement on increasing gas supplies to the EU.
Norway produced over 113 billion cubic meters last year. m. Of this volume, 111.45 billion cubic meters. m was exported via existing subsea pipelines to the EU and the UK.
UK NEEDS NORWEGIAN GAS
It is the British who are one of the main consumers of the Norwegian “blue fuel”. The country fears that in the winter of 2022-23, due to the conflict in Ukraine and the shortage of gas in Europe, problems will also affect Foggy Albion.
“There could be an emergency in the UK gas market,” British regulator Ofgem said in a letter to energy company SSE, which was obtained by the company from the BBC broadcasting corporation.
SSE owns four thermal power plants in the UK and supplies electricity to large industrial enterprises. UK energy companies face penalties if they fail to deliver electricity to consumers. Moreover, the regulator warned that failure to meet obligations to consumers threatens energy companies with bankruptcy. British thermal power plants provide approximately 30% of the country’s domestic electricity needs.
In addition to electricity generation, natural gas is used in large volumes in heavy industry, fertilizer production and residential heating.
London cannot guarantee uninterrupted power supply this coming winter, despite the resumption of decommissioned coal-fired power plants and the intention to allow shale gas.
To prevent shortages, the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss is trying to conclude contracts for additional gas supplies with Norway, Qatar and other gas producing countries. On Wednesday, some Western media reported on the possibility of signing a long-term gas supply contract with Norway as early as next week.
The UK has its own gas resources on the North Sea shelf. Last year, domestic production fell to 34.6 billion cubic meters. m. This volume is not enough to meet domestic demand, which last year reached 77 billion cubic meters. m. The missing volumes are 42.4 billion cubic meters. m – came from abroad: about 28 billion cubic meters. m from Norway and 14.4 billion cubic meters. m in the form of LNG from Qatar, USA, Russia and other countries.
Thus, Norwegian gas remains literally “Europe’s last hope.” Immediately after reports of sabotage were received, Norway significantly increased security measures at its oil and gas infrastructure facilities, which are located in the North Sea and on the coast of the country. The Norwegian army, with the support of the police and local self-defense units, began patrolling oil and gas infrastructure facilities on land, and the navy, along with attached aviation, took production platforms and pipelines in the North Sea under protection.
Britain also intends to purchase two specialized vessels for the protection of underwater pipelines and cables.
A number of Western experts are sure that the measures of the Norwegian authorities aimed at ensuring the safety of oil and gas infrastructure facilities – especially underwater gas pipelines to Germany – are justified. However, it is not Russia, which is indiscriminately accused by some forces in Europe, that should be feared, but the United States, Norway’s NATO ally.
The United States is interested in reducing pipeline gas supplies to Europe – American LNG cannot compete with pipeline gas in terms of price and availability.
US LNG supplies to Europe have grown significantly this year. According to the monitoring of the movement of LNG tankers, last month the United States delivered 87 shipments of LNG to Europe with a total volume of 6.3 million tons, compared with 6.25 million tons a month earlier. From January to July of this year, the average volume of deliveries exceeded 7 million tons per month.
Thanks to record deliveries of American LNG to Europe, the United States has achieved a reduction in the trade deficit. In August, the deficit was $67.4 billion, $3.1 billion less than in July.
This was due to the growth in volumes of deliveries and the rise in gas prices. This year, the price of gas in the European market has significantly exceeded the price in the Asian market, while earlier it was much lower thanks to Russian pipeline supplies.
More than others, the German economy will suffer from sabotage at Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. Before the start of the special operation, Germany was the largest consumer of Russian gas.
Thanks to large volumes of purchases, it bought gas from Russia cheaper than other European countries. Due to the energy crisis, inflation in Germany reached double digits, and the country’s economy plunged into recession. There is only one conclusion to be drawn: the White House has squandered Germany, followed by the entire EU.