Looming Energy Crisis in Europe

russian oil

Tensions between Europe and Russia over energy continue to mount. 

European nations are now rapidly pumping natural gas into storage chambers in hopes that it will help moderate skyrocketing prices, and that it will also reduce Russia’s political leverage over the continent. 

Russian state-control energy giant Gazprom drastically cut the amount of gas it delivers last week. Russia sends some of its gas to Europe through the pipe line Nord Stream 1, which sends gas to Germany and other countries. 

Germany’s response was to trigger the second stage of a three-step emergency gas plan. The government also called on the public and companies within the country to conserve gas. 

The reduction in supplies through Nord Stream 1 also affected flows to France, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as others. 

The reduction eliminated any last hope that Russian gas can be counted on. 

Analysts and experts warn that Russia will continue to use gas as its maximum leverage in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Experts say it is the latest sign that Moscow appears intent on punishing Europe for crippling sanctions, as well as its ongoing military support for Ukraine. 

Since May, the European Union has required its member states to fill storage facilities to at least 80 percent of capacity before November. But the routine summer practice of filling up Europe’s natural gas tanks has become a battle. Currently, European storage levels are overall at about 55 percent. 

Urgency has been added to efforts across Europe to build up their gas inventories, hoping to moderate stratospheric prices and reduce political leverage. 

And gas prices are already enormous, coming in at six times what they were one year ago. Germany has warned there is a risk of a very serious economic crisis due to the astronomical increase in energy prices. 

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