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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Europe is doing just fine without Russian gas

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When Russia attacked Ukraine on a full scale less than two years ago, Europe was afraid of many things. Among other things, it will be completely deprived of gas or the prices of the raw material will rise to impossible levels. It turns out that the price per megawatt hour is now lower than a year ago, and gas imports from Russia to European Union countries have decreased dramatically in the last two years.

Europe could cope without Putin’s gas, although a dozen or so months ago it was not so obvious that it would be able to cope. Now, in the middle of the heating season, gas is over 10 times cheaper than a year and a half ago.

– Fears of economic collapse turned out to be groundless. Energy prices dropped and remained low even during the recent freeze in early January. Gas storage facilities are still well stocked. Europe has made progress in increasing the resilience of its energy system, says Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine at the peak after the invasion, a megawatt hour cost 350 euros, today it is about 30 euros. Replacing Russian gas with raw material from other sources – mainly from Norway, Qatar, Algeria and the United States – helped. Europe has secured its future by filling its warehouses. Basically only Hungary is still dependent on Gazprom.

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The prices of Russian coal, which has been flooding Europe – including Poland – for years are also exceptionally low. Putin failed to find new buyers for it in Asia.

– The Russians have only nine percent of all raw materials in Europe. They are no longer an important supplier of raw materials to Europe. This is an important lesson. It is important that we do not forget about it and never return to the status quo that took its revenge on us in 2022 – appeals Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of biznesalter.pl. The fact that Europe is coping without Russian gas for the second winter in a row is certainly due to intra-EU solidarity. Putin can no longer use energy as a weapon against the countries of his choice.

– We acted together. Because we had well-functioning and open markets and good friends around the world who stepped in and increased alternative supplies. Because we had a single market that allowed us to redirect the flow of energy to where it was needed. But above all, because we have redoubled our efforts to transition to clean energy, explains Ursula von der Leyen.

Zelensky warns against Putin’s further plansAnna Czerwińska/Fakty TVN

An optimistic perspective, but also a threat on the horizon

More clean energy will mean that the importance of gas will decline in the coming years – at least among private customers. The EU directive agreed by the Member States assumes that from 2028, it will not be possible to install furnaces using fossil fuels – including gas – in new buildings. Then, among other things, the obligation to install photovoltaics in new buildings will come into force.

The current low price of gas on the markets may affect the average Pole on his/her bill after energy prices are released. – If this trend continued, after unfreezing energy and gas prices in the summer of 2024, this reference point would indicate a lower price, so we would unfreeze gas prices, and they would not be so high in tariffs – adds Wojciech Jakóbik.

The latest threat to low gas prices is the situation in the Middle East. After attacks on merchant ships – carried out from the territory of Yemen – LNG transports stopped sailing through the Red Sea.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Reuters

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