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Alternatives for Europe if Russia cuts off gas supplies

Unaccounted-for damage to the Nord Stream pipelines, which cross the Baltic Sea, has shattered expectations that German gas imports from Russia will start flowing again shortly.

Concerns regarding the supply to Europe if the disruption was prolonged arose since Nord Stream 1 has been idle since the end of August for maintenance work.

Since beginning what Moscow refers to as its "special military operation" in Ukraine, it has also cut off supply to other European nations, including Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland, and curtailed flows via other pipelines.

Typically, roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas comes from Russia, primarily through pipelines. There were over 155 billion cubic meters of deliveries in 2021. (bcm).

Gas travels mostly through Ukraine to Austria, Italy, Slovakia, and other east European countries. At the pipeline's Sokhranovka entrance point, which passes through Russian-occupied territory in the country's east, the operator of the Ukrainian transmission system has declared a state of force majeure.

However, the Sudzha route is still used to send around 42 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas into Ukraine each day.

The Yamal-Europe pipeline, which passes Belarus and Poland to reach Germany, is one of the other routes to Europe that avoids Ukraine.

With a 33 bcm capacity, or almost a sixth of Russian gas exports to Europe, the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Since the beginning of the year, flows between Poland and Germany have been shifting eastward and decreasing.

The owner of the Polish portion of the Yamal-Europe pipeline is under sanctions from Moscow. Poland, according to its climate minister, can cope without the reverse gas flow on the Yamal pipeline.

Both the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which were designed to transport Russian gas to Europe via Germany, were destroyed by explosions and would require extensive reconstruction work. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, Germany suspended certification of the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, preventing its operation.

As a substitute supply route, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in October building a gas hub in Turkey. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan supported this idea.

Germany has refused to allow Russia to use a damaged Nord Stream 2 connection to pump gas, despite Russia's offer.

Even though the global gas market was constrained even before the Ukraine crisis, several nations have alternate supply choices and Europe's gas network is connected, allowing for the sharing of supplies.

Gas from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands may be imported via pipelines by Germany, which is Europe's largest user of Russian gas.

In order to help the European Union reach its goal of reducing its dependency on Russian fossil fuels by the year 2027, Norway, the continent's second-largest gas supplier behind Russia, has been increasing output.

In order to secure more supply for the upcoming three winters, Norway's Equinor (EQNR.OL) and Britain's Centrica (CNA.L) have inked a contract. Britain can send gas to Europe via pipelines and is not dependent on Russian gas.

Through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline to Italy and the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) through Turkey, gas from Azerbaijan can reach Southern Europe.

Europe now imports more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from sources including the US, Qatar, and other countries.

However, unanticipated interruptions caused by limitations in production, accidents, and climate dangers might limit supply in these nations.

The capacity of Europe's LNG facilities is similarly constrained, making it difficult for several LNG ships to find slots to unload their cargo. If the backlog persists, those ships may begin seeking for ports outside of Europe.

Several nations, including Germany, intend to construct additional LNG terminals. It intends to construct five.

Poland, which sources around 10 bcm or 50% of its gas needs from Russia, claims it can obtain gas through two lines with Germany.

The Baltic Pipe, which runs through Denmark and from Norway to Poland, began carrying gas from Germany on October 1. It can hold up to 10 bcm every year.

It will now be Nov. 1 before a Danish terminal for Norwegian gas that will be sent to Poland via the new Baltic Pipe pipeline opens.

In August, Poland also put into service a new gas link with Slovakia, and at the end of September, it requested money from the Commission for a new gas pipeline that would connect the Czech Republic to its network and LNG facilities.

France rejected the idea, arguing that new LNG terminals, which can be made to float, would be a speedier and more cost-effective alternative than a new pipeline. Spain and Germany had been pressing for the building of a new gas link via the Pyrenees mountains.

Several countries can try to bridge any energy supply deficit by increasing power output from nuclear, renewables, hydropower, or coal sources, or by importing electricity through interconnectors from their neighbors.

In Belgium, Britain, France, and Germany, the availability of nuclear power is decreasing as a result of outages at facilities that are aging, being phased down, or being decommissioned. Due to a heatwave and scant rainfall this summer, hydro levels have been dropping.

However, several facilities have been turned back to coal in order to ensure adequate electricity for this winter and to contain growing energy prices. Europe has been attempting to move away from coal in order to fulfill climate commitments.

The EU's energy ministers also decided that all member states should voluntarily reduce their gas use by 15% from August to March compared to their average annual consumption from 2017 to 2021 and set EU-wide goals for refueling gas storage. ​

All around Europe, nations are putting plans in place in case there are power outages, shortages, or rationing of electricity. While Britain issued a last-resort warning about planned three-hour power outages for households and companies, France announced a national energy conservation strategy.

The European Commission has suggested a set of urgent steps to address the energy issue, including that member states begin purchasing gas collectively.



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