The President of the European Commission told reporters Tuesday that EU leaders will be discussing the merits of an EU strategic gas reserve later this month. The last few weeks have plunged the European Union into a full-blown energy crisis, triggered by dwindling natural gas supplies and exploding energy bills. Around 90 percent of the EU’s gas is imported from abroad, with Russia being a major player in the region.
However, new data released by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom shows that the Kremlin has flipped its pipelines to Europe via Belarus.
According to official figures, gas exports to Europe along these important pipelines fell by an astonishing 70 percent.
On September 26, Russia pumped around 112 million cubic meters (mcm) of natural gas to Europe via Belarus.
By October 3rd, exports sank to only 30 million m³.
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Exports on the Russia-Belarus-Ukraine line also fell from around 110 million m³ to 85 million m³ in the same period.
The Kremlin recently came under fire for gas politics – claims that Russia’s oligarchs have rejected.
Sergey Komlev, Head of Contract Structuring and Pricing at Gazprom Export, said: “Allegations that Gazprom does not supply gas to Europe are absurd.”
However, experts fear that the restricted flow of gas to Europe this winter will put consumers straight into their pockets.
Ursula von der Leyen said in Estonia this week that the world as a whole is experiencing increased demand for gas.
She said: “In the short term, we will be discussing in the European Council not only this evening but in two weeks in the formal Council how to deal with storage, a strategic reserve, and we will look at the overall price composition of the electricity market, because when electricity prices are high “It’s because of the high gas prices and we need to look into the possibility of decoupling within the market because we have much cheaper energy like renewable energy.”
The gas shortage hit the UK as well, forcing a number of small utility companies to go bankrupt in September.
Around 1.5 million customers had to switch suppliers by Thursday, as wholesale costs for casting have increased by 250 percent since the beginning of the year.
A total of nine companies went bankrupt in September, including Symbio, Igloo and Enstroga.