They will tear each other apart: the Europeans started a fight for gas

MOSCOW, October 12 — PRIME, Oleg Krivoshapov. The public agenda on the issue of energy supplies to European countries continues to escalate. It would seem that Poland has just begun to receive the long-awaited Norwegian gas through the new pipeline, but still expresses its dissatisfaction. What caused discord in the common European house this time – in the material of the Prime agency.

POLAND IN THE FIRST

It is a well-known fact that after the collapse of the world socialist system and the country’s withdrawal from the influence of Moscow in the early 1990s, the Polish power elite began to adhere to a tough anti-Russian line in foreign policy and headed for the maximum possible rapprochement with the United States. In the midst of the current conflict in Ukraine, official representatives of Warsaw behaved like the most zealous conductors of the Russophobic line in Eastern Europe, which fully meets the interests of the current White House administration.

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Modern Poland, in fact, has become an energy “hub” of the European Union instead of Germany and Austria. In this, Warsaw manages to rely on Norway, which supplies scarce raw materials to the region through the newly opened gas pipeline. The Baltic Pipe pipeline was put into operation on September 27, the day after the emergency on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. Initially, this line was laid as a competitor to Nord Stream, and, according to Warsaw’s plan, it should supply about 6.5 billion cubic meters of gas in the next year 2023 and about 7.7 billion cubic meters in 2024. The maximum capacity of the pipe is 10 billion cubic meters. However, even if we assume that the gas pipeline will pump raw materials at the upper limit of possibility, Baltic Pipe will not solve Europe’s energy problems in the heating season that has already begun: the shortage of “blue fuel” is tens of billions of cubic meters.

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HE’S ALIVE

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, amid the unfolding energy crisis, accused Norway of trying to cash in on natural gas exports to Europe after supplies from Russia were substantially cut. According to the Washington Post, the Scandinavian country’s income for the last year will be three times higher than in the previous year 2021.

“Critics call these energy revenues obscene,” writes the American media. “Polish Prime Minister called on Norway to share its “excessive, gigantic” income with Ukraine, accusing Oslo of indirectly profiting from the conflict.”

At the same time, the publication notes that the Norwegian authorities do not agree with the reproaches addressed to them, because the country supported the EU sanctions against Russia and provided military assistance to Kyiv. Moreover, Oslo believes that the export of gas to the continent now in itself is a support for Europe at a critical moment for it.

Official Oslo consistently and firmly defends its interests in the export of hydrocarbons to Europe. As early as September 12, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stere, in an official conversation with the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, “skeptically” assessed Brussels’ attempts to resolve the energy crisis in the region by artificially limiting gas prices by the Union countries.

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However, not only Norway was criticized by Warsaw: American LNG exporters were also condemned by the Europeans, they were also accused of profiting from the difficulties of the Old World.
“But the deep involvement of the Norwegian government in the oil and gas industry and the fact that they are so close [с континентальной Европой]make the situation with Norway more burdensome,” the author of the article is sure.

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In other words, why would an objective Washington publication criticize enterprising American suppliers who are profiting from European problems in the same way, if they are not formally controlled by the US authorities? Here, hydrocarbons from Norway are exported centrally, and this is their significant drawback, Washington Post journalists are convinced.

DISCONNECTION AND EGOISM

The conflict in the “energy field” even between such EU countries as Poland and Norway, which are in close cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons, reveals a significant crisis of mutual understanding in the region.

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The sluggish intra-European conflict has been going on for several months, and Poland is not the only one expressing dissatisfaction. Even more principled was the position of Hungary, whose politicians repeatedly expressed their “special view” on the pan-European approach. Hungary openly criticizes the anti-Russian agenda of the EU and, moreover, demands that hydrocarbons that the country imports from Russia be excluded from sanctions.

And if Prime Minister Viktor Orban managed to achieve partial concessions for Hungary on participation in sanctions that are detrimental to its economy, then he can’t get away from harsh criticism from the Euro-Atlantic politicians and avoid an aggressive campaign in the press of Europe and the United States. However, this did not make the country change its point of view, and on October 11, Orban once again criticized the pan-European sanctions against Russia.

“Sanctions in this form are killing us,” the politician said.

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All the “energy squabbles” now taking place in the EU are not accidental, Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, representing Germany, is sure. In an interview with Waz, he noted that now the EU countries are now in turn “knocking on the door of Qatar or the United Arab Emirates,” and this, in turn, only further provokes an increase in the price of natural gas. The politician called on the EU states to form a trading community – a pool of buyers that would pursue a unified policy of purchasing energy under long-term contracts.

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But in order for this idea not to remain a utopia, the countries of the European Union need to agree on possible quotas or on a reliable mechanism for redistributing volumes. The reality is that Brussels officials have been trying in recent months to come up with an effective strategy for reallocating stocks. However, Poland, which is now actively criticizing Norway for its unwillingness to sell gas to its neighbors on the cheap, categorically refused to share the available fuel with its neighbors back in the summer. The reason is the unacceptable idea of ​​politicians in Brussels to reduce gas consumption by 15% until the spring of 2023. Spain also supported it.

Predicting the development of the energy crisis in the EU is quite difficult due to constantly changing conditions (take the same explosions at the Nord Streams, which no one expected), but intra-European squabbles between buyers and sellers in the face of Poland and Norway have only just begun. The most interesting is ahead. The heating season is coming.


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