Europe’s Scary Warmth Scuttles Russian Gas War

January 18, 2023

Above, predictably cliche report on Europe’s record, climate driven warmth, illustrated with girls in bikinis and people sunning at the beach. It does, however, make note of the one saving grace of the warm spell, gas demand has been very low, and thus Russian plans to strangle Europe by withholding gas supplies has failed, for now.
If anything, the gas war has been rocket fuel for Western European economies, if they needed it, to finally push away from fossil fuel dependence.

Bloomberg:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany needs to increase its pace of expanding renewable power to reach its goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2045, even as Europe’s largest economy withstands the initial impact of Russia’s energy squeeze. 

“We are getting through this winter” without a gas shortage, Scholz said Saturday at the opening of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Lubmin on the Baltic coast, according to news agency DPA. He added that there’s been “no economic crisis in Germany.”

For the long-term transition away from coal, oil and natural gas, Germany needs to increase electricity generation by one third by 2030 and then double that in the following decade, Scholz said in an interview with the Berlin-based Tageszeitung newspaper published on Saturday. 

“If we want to achieve the energy transition, we need more speed,” he told the publication widely know as taz. “The goal needs to be to set up three to four large wind turbines in Germany every day.”

Energy has dominated Scholz’s first year in office. Germany’s fragile energy security was exposed as Russia squeezed supplies in retaliation for Berlin’s support of Ukraine following its invasion. LNG has helped plug the gap. Lubmin is the second terminal to open with more to follow this year.

The energy squeeze prompted Germany to extend operations of the country’s remaining nuclear power plants, but Scholz told taz that the reactors would “definitely” be shut down in the spring. 

He said a number of laws were changed to speed up approvals for wind power projects, which can currently take as long as six years. 

“We are facing the greatest industrial modernization in Germany since the end of the 19th century,” he said in the newspaper interview. “Nobody should underestimate this task.”

Yahoo:

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ploy to use oil and gas exports as “a weapon of financial war” in its campaign to conquer Ukraine “is increasingly backfiring, threatening the core of Russia’s beleaguered economy and curtailing its geopolitical influence,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Putin had calculated that cutting off natural gas to Europe, and especially Germany, would leave Europe’s economy in shambles and its citizens freezing, weakening the continent’s support for Ukraine. But “warm weather and ample supplies from other producers have derailed that effort so far,” and European gas prices on Monday fell to levels not seen since September 2021, the Journal reports. “The Russian oil industry, meanwhile, is having trouble adapting to a European Union embargo and a U.S.-led price cap on its crude.”

Before Putin’s Ukraine invasion, Russia provided Germany with 60 percent of its natural gas. This reliance on Russian gas “initially gave Moscow the upper hand in its economic war with the West,” as energy prices shot up in Europe, “sending a gusher of revenue to Moscow,” the Journal reports. “The money helped Russia fund the war in Ukraine and placate its population at home with handouts.” Oil and gas provided 45 percent of Russia’s federal budget in 2021.

Moscow cut off its pipelines to Germany in August, but this effort to “blackmail Berlin” has failed, Andrey Gurkov writes at Germany’s DW. “Germany is starting 2023 without Russian gas, and with no need to worry about the loss,” while Russia’s state-owned Gazprom has lost its most important foreign customer. Berlin’s expanding military support for Kyiv “can be seen as further, indirect evidence of the failure of Putin’s ‘gas special operation,'” Gurkov adds.

“The German problem, or the central European problem, was that … half of [our eggs] were in the basket of Putin,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said earlier in January. “He destroyed that.”

China is buying more gas and oil from Russia now, but “Russia’s pipeline gas exports to China are less than a 10th of what it used to export to Europe before the war,” and “Beijing has yet to agree to a second pipeline carrying Russian gas,” the Journal reports. Russian oil is selling at about half the global benchmark price, and the long, costly shipping routes to China and India, Russia’s other main post-invasion customer, eat into Russia’s ever-thinner profits.

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3 Responses to “Europe’s Scary Warmth Scuttles Russian Gas War”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    What of the industries in Europe that use coal and gas in-house for manufacturing and processing?

  2. gmrmt Says:

    I’ve heard a critic say that Germany deciding to use so much Russian gas was kneeling and kissing Russias’ feet. I would like to point out that there was no way that Russia could shoot germany in that position without shooting itself in the foot.


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