Russia has historically been the biggest supplier of natural gas to the European Union. Following the gas disputes between Russia, Ukraine and Europe in 2006 and 2009, and the ensuing tensions following the Ukraine crisis in 2013 and 2014, the European Union sought to reduce its dependence on natural gas imports from Russia. However, Russia still supplies about 40% of the EU’s gas consumption.
On the other hand, the Americans, knowing this important task as well as Europe’s urgent need for energy, are trying to maintain their sovereignty over the green continent; something that Brussels does not like very much and they are trying to get out of the burden of Washington by creating components such as the “European Club” and the “European United Army”.
In this regard, the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, citing Spanish government sources, has reported on the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) plans to launch a cross-border pipeline to transfer gas to the heart of Europe and reduce heavy dependence of Germany and Central Europe on Russian gas in the coming years. Germany’s high dependence on Russian gas appears to be one of EU main geostrategic weaknesses amid tensions over Ukraine.
Thus, the EU’s problem is its heavy dependence on gas imports from Russia, which accounts for about 40% of total gas imports. Russian gas is distributed among the 20 countries of the European Union, however, the southeastern partners of the European Union will suffer the most.
Also, although Berlin and Moscow are pursuing plans to increase gas imports through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and this plan has faced ups and downs, especially due to the recent crisis in Ukraine and the announcement of its suspension by Germany, diversifying the gas import basket and the reduction of dependence on Russia are among the major goals that the European Union has been pursuing for a long time.
After Brussels, on the initiative of Emmanuel Macron, sent a French delegation to Baku to pave the way for more gas purchase from the Republic of Azerbaijan, this time the Europeans turned to Algeria. Tensions in the South Caucasus may not be a safe option for Europe to continue to receive gas. Meanwhile, Qatar has also stated that it does not have the capacity to replace Russia for supplying gas to Europe.
But the choice of Algeria is also a big gamble, as Algeria is Spain’s largest gas supplier and covers almost half of the country’s gas demand through the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline. Following the escalation of tensions in Rabat, the Algerian government announced that it intends to suspend gas exports to Morocco via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline from the beginning of November 2021 and continue to supply gas to Spain.
This also indicates that Morocco is likely to create a crisis due to Morocco moving away from the benefits of gas supplies to Europe. Another important issue is that at present the connection of the gas pipelines with France is weak and there is no route with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The issue of historical tensions between Algeria and France has also cast a shadow over the pipeline. France’s colonial interaction with Algeria is at the root of many of the African country’s problems; an interaction that has turned into historical hatred, leading Algeria to move closer to the eastern axis, namely Russia and China, and to counter the normalization of relations with the Zionist regime.
The entire conditions have led to weeks of “crazy” searches for short-term, medium-term and long-term alternatives to Russian gas. Europe’s tour aims to find an alternative to Russia’s energy for itself, while Europe’s suffering from an identity and independence crisis has added to the pains of this continent.
Therefore, it seems that if Russia can manage Ukraine crisis in its own favor, the Brussels problem will only begin with a power like Moscow, which has established its position in the world and Brussels desperately needs its energy, and variables such as Algerian gas not only are not sufficient for solving the European problem, but it will also pave the way for new Russian conditions for selling gas to Europe. In this regard, with the progress in the nuclear negotiations and the lifting of sanctions, European investment in Iran’s gas industry with an aim of exporting it to Europe can be considered as a reliable option to meet an important part of Europe’s gas needs.