Dr. Mitra Rahnejat in an interview with the site of strategic Council on Foreign Relations referred to strategic consequences of Russia gas cut for Europe and spelled out:” with a glance at the history how the European Union was formed, it will be clearly obvious that having established Europeans Coal and Steel Community and also Atomic Energy Community during 1950s, i.e. seventy years ago, the founding members of the present EU had attached great importance for energy issue and the guarantee to supply it.
Having stated that energy supply related crises during later decades, caused energy supply become a security problem for the EU, she said:” in line with this, we witnessed the formation of European initiatives in the context of official documents, Green Paper, Lisbon Treaty, Energy Union Strategy of 2015, and ultimately energy Strategy with its ambitious objectives of “De-carbonization” and “Environment Supporters”.
Assistant Professor of Political Economics and Public Policy Making Group affiliated to Laws and Political Science of Allameh Tabatabaei University reminded the EU efforts to make policy on energy after 2014 Ukraine crisis and underscored:” Europe’s objective to create considerable variety of its gas supply resources is challenging but its realization is not impossible until 2025. One of the important challenges is distrusting some of the most promising options of non – Russian gas supply, like the Middle East and Caspian regions options. However, sorting out these challenges depend on the measures and political will of others such as the United States, Russia, China as well as Europe’s capability”.
Europe’s Concerns about the Russian Gas Cut
Having stated that in 2021, Russia as the main supplier of 45% of gas, 27% of oil, and 46% of coal of the total volume of energy imports of the European Union, she added:” Severance of the European dependence on Russia was coupled with a large number of consequences. For sure, substituting the energy with new resources is not an easy job for European decision makers. It requires a meticulous policy making, but it does not mean to be impossible and “really” hard winter for Europe”.
The university professor explained:” European citizens will certainly suffer from energy price rise and being obliged to reduce their energy consumption, but if we consider winter as a three – month term, then measures such as increasing teleworking that help reduce of energy consumption in public offices, increase of virtual education hours at schools, temporary migration of Europeans to destinations like Turkey, India, Arab countries to spend their winter, purchase of energy from countries like Iran through unofficial methods to bypass sanctions, are among measures taken by Europeans to leave behind winter 2022 in their program”.
Rahnejat called European Commission Sanction Policy along with deterrent economic stances against Russia through providing fifth and sixth packages on gradual non – reliance on coal and petroleum of the country by the end of 2022 as a difficult step and continued:” seriousness of further energy sanctions depend on finding energy suppliers to substitute Russia. Selling of Russian oil to Europe was a lucrative bilateral business but difficult transport of gas for technical reasons, long term process to diversify supply resources and the need for major and long term investment to build transmitting pipes or liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals, has placed gas as the most sensitive commodity from political point of view in their trade relations”.
The expert of international economics said:” after the outbreak of Ukraine war, on the top of expediting the change in Europe energy system, European Commission has placed the strategy of new energy aimed at reaching quicker self – sufficiency from Russian gas resources, diversification in alternative energy resources, and expediting renewable energy plans to promote security, stability, fair and regular transfer of energy in its agenda”.
Having elaborated the efforts made by Europe to cut its dependence on Russian energy, she added:” the new European Commission plan called “Re-strengthening European Union”, joint European measure for more cost effective energy, safe and sustainable made alignment Brussels measures to contain the effectivity of Ukraine crisis over vulnerable part of European economy _ Energy _ with the statement released October 2021 to confront energy price rise”.
According to Rahnejat, the proposed European Commission plan is a comprehensive and multi- lateral program focused on diversification of fossil fuel imports, gas storage facilities, and the seriousness of proceeding with renewable energy program.
The university professor reminded:” having regarded the new strategy of the European Commission to supply Europe’s energy, and also in bearing in mind that under pressure exerted by Russian government, Gazprom has reduced the transfer of 55 billion cubic meters of its annual gas to Germany through Nord Stream –1 pipeline which means 60% reduction of the total figure. Similarly, following the March 31, 2022 Putin Order on changing the currency for trade of unfriendly countries and a halt in Russian energy towards Bulgaria and Poland as of April 27, 2022, Brussels has taken steps towards the market of other regions”.
Assessment of European Efforts to Substitute Russian Gas
Having said that Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East are among gas rich regions that can assist the European Union in this respect, she reminded:” the EU imported as much as 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia in 2021. According to data released by the EU, by the end of 2022 proposed alternatives for Russian gas, including a range of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Renewable Energies, warming efficiency, variety of pipelines, biomethane, solar panels, and thermal pumps comprise about 102 billion cubic meters”.
The member of scientific board of Allameh Tabatabaei said:” the share of Russian gas imports fell from 45% in April 2021 to 31% in April 2022. The share of gas pipeline alone also fell from 40% in 2021 to 26% in the current year. Yet, the total LNG imports has reached a record low that shows in April alone, the total figure stood at 12.6 billion cubic meters was imported that indicates an increase of 36% on an annual basis despite the reduction in Russian share. In fact, continuous European efforts are coming into fruition”.
Rahnejat underscored:” having signed a Memorandum of Understanding on LNG exports with Egypt, and the Zionist regime as well as cooperation with Qatar and the U.S. to import gas, the EU intends to continue diversification of its gas suppliers”.