Europe able to cope with disruptions in Russian gas supplies

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 27

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

Europe is able to weather any possible disruption in Russian gas supplies, Thomas Pugh, commodities economist at British economic research and consulting company Capital Economics believes.

"Russia supplied about a third of Europe's natural gas in 2014, making it by far the continent's largest energy partner," Pugh said in a report obtained by Trend.

"But some European countries are more reliant on Russian energy than others. Belarus, Slovakia and Finland rely on Russia for all of their gas needs. Around 16 percent of Europe's gas consumption flows through Ukraine," analyst said.

The hiatus in last year's supply means that stocks of natural gas in Ukraine are at extremely low levels, Pugh said.

"This had increased concern that if supplies to Ukraine are cut off again the country will be forced to siphon off gas destined for other EU countries for the rest of the winter," he said.

However, Pugh believes that even if the crisis did escalate and Russia did cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, the impact wouldn't have been that severe.

"The EU has been drafting emergency measures to protect itself in case of any disruption," he said. "For example, power plants have been stockpiling coal in case of a reduction in gas supplies."

"The EU has also been improving infrastructure to allow gas to be sent from Western European countries to Central and Eastern ones, reversing the usual flow," he added.

In addition, there are a number of other pipelines which can supply Europe, such as those from Norway or Algeria, and LNG shipments could be increased, said the economist.

"In any case, extra gas could be sent from Russia via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany and via pipelines through Turkey," Pugh said.

"Overall, any disruption to supplies from Russia would undoubtedly cause European gas prices to jump, but the impact may not be as dire as appears at first glance," he said. "The EU has a number of ways it could draw on extra supplies and winter is almost over, which should help to dampen the impact of any loss."

European countries are too dependent on fuel and gas imports. To reduce this dependency while keeping its energy market open to countries outside the EU, is the key objective, which, in particular, includes the creating a European Energy Union - by pooling resources, connecting networks and uniting the power when negotiating with non EU countries.

Among the most important energy objectives of the European Union is the diversification of its energy supply sources and routes. The Southern Gas Corridor project is a solution the EU counts on.

The project envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe. This large project aims at diversifying the routes and sources of energy supply that will enhance energy security of Europe. The Southern Gas Corridor project will ensure Caspian gas supply to the European markets for the first time in history.

Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AygunBadalova

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