Biden slammed after US gives green light for Russia for energy contract
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The coronavirus pandemic has been an unprecedented health crisis that affected countries worldwide, with many countries such as Austria now returning to lockdowns as infection levels rise. But European countries have another unmatched crisis to contend with after widespread shortages of gas and coal, with blackouts possible if wind and solar power energy sources prove insufficient – and it seems Russia holds all the cards.
Europe is bracing for an extremely tough winter period amid rising wholesale prices which is causing an energy crisis across the continent.
Britain, Germany and several other countries have reported shortages and now are hoping mild temperatures continue so as to not put undue pressure on an already stretched industry.
Europe is short of gas and coal – and without other renewable energy sources such as wind power, the worst-case scenario including power cuts and factory closures could take place.
The energy crunch has been brewing for years, with Europe growing increasingly dependent on other sources of energy including wind and solar power.
Environmental policy changes have prompted some countries o to close their coal and nuclear outlets – which has reduced the number of power plants offering backup in tough periods.
Soaring energy prices are likely to push up broader inflation across Europe this year according to economists.
For its own consumption, the EU needs energy that is imported from third countries.
In 2019, the main imported energy products were petroleum products, including crude oil – which accounted for two-thirds of energy imports into the EU.
This was then filled by 27 percent of gas and six percent of which was solid fossil fuels.
Russia is the main EU supplier of crude oil, natural gas and solid fossil fuels.
In 2019, almost three-quarters of the EU’s imports of natural gas come from Russia – accounting for 41 percent.
According to Eurostat, the EU received most of its natural and liquified natural gas in 2019 from Russia, with 34.3 terajoules coming from the former Soviet nation in 2019 – down 0.1 (TJs) on the previous year.
The second-highest exporters to the EU are others – where they reach 22.4 (TJs), followed by Norway at 13.2 (TJs) which is 16 percent.
The remaining gas providers are as follows:
- Qatar: 8.3 TJs
- Algeria: 7.7 TJs
- Nigeria: 5.3 TJs
- The USA: 4.8 TJs
- The UK: 2.1 TJs
- Trinidad and Tobago: 1.9 TJs.
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The dependency rate of the EU on net imports was equivalent to 61 percent in 2019.
This means more than half of the EU’s energy needs were met by net imports in that year.
This rate ranged from more than 90 percent in Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus – to just five percent in Estonia.
The dependency rate on energy imports has increased since 2000 when it was just 56 percent.
European gas inventories are at their lowest level in more than a decade.
Europe’s gas prices have more than tripled in 2021 alone because Russia has been curbing additional deliveries to the continent to refill its depleted storage sites after a cold winter last year.
It has been difficult for the country to find alternative supplies, with the North Sea field undergoing heavy maintenance in the wake of coronavirus pandemic induced-delays.
In addition, Asia has been taking cargoes of liquified natural gas to meet rising demand there.
Russia is also facing an energy crunch of its own and therefore prices are likely to remain high even if Europe has a mild winter.
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