The head of the International Energy Agency slammed Russia for the energy crisis that has hit European economies.
Russia could increase gas supplies to Africa by at least a quarter of current levels but it is keeping spot sales capped despite the high prices, IEA Executive director Fatih Birol stated on Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. This is equivalent to 3 billion cubic meters per month or a new liquefied gas cargo arriving each day.
Europe is currently facing an energy crisis that has seen power and gas prices break multiple records in the last few months. Already, gas inventories on the continent are at their lowest level in over a decade, while the coldest months of this year have just begun.
Birol stated that Russia’s actions have created tight elements in the European gas market. “The current storage shortage in the European Union was largely due to Gazprom.”
According to the IEA, Russian gas supplies to Europe fell 25% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to a year ago and 22% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Birol said that Moscow has stopped the flow of gas to Europe while other suppliers like Norway, Algeria, and Azerbaijan have increased their supply.
The EU’s gas storage facilities are only 51% full, as opposed to 70%. Birol stated that Gazprom accounts for half the European inventory deficit. However, the Russian company’s facilities account for only 10% of the continent’s total installed capacity.
Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Gazprom to fill its European storage locations. Although some gas was produced, it wasn’t enough to meet the continent’s demands. The high prices have forced heavy industries, including metal smelters and fertilizer producers, to reduce or stop production.
Birol stated that Gazprom has been fulfilling its long-term contractual obligations. However, the company has decreased spot sales to Europe despite the fact Gazprom’s long term contracts are well below current spot prices.
The Paris-based agency recommended that Europe’s countries establish minimum inventories in order to protect future supplies.
Birol stated that “Europe has not paid enough attention to the critical significance of gas storage for the security of its natural gas supply,”
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