Vladimir Putin discusses possibility of third world war
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The Kremlin has slowed the delivery of piped natural gas to Europe in recent weeks, according to analysis from ICIS, a commodity intelligence service. It started shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to ease concerns about the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The controversial project is designed to deliver Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and Poland, but has sparked concern it could be used “as a weapon”.
Now, the UK could also feel the shockwaves, according to experts, after slashing its gas storage capacity.
Marco Alverà, chief executive of the Italian pipeline and infrastructure group SNAM, told the Telegraph: “The UK is more vulnerable to a gas supply crisis than other Western European countries.
“It has way too little storage and it is buying more Russian gas than it realises through the Netherlands.”
Energy experts now warn that Britons could face rationing, or a price shock big enough to cause serious distress and force changes in behaviour.
Putin could spark a wave of chaos across Europe (Image: GETTY)
Merkel recently clashed with the Russian President (Image: GETTY)
Adam Lewis, from energy consultant Hartree Solutions, added: “I can’t ever remember a situation like this over the last twenty years.
“We’re looking at potential shutdowns and demand destruction.”
The UK unveiled its Hydrogen Strategy last month, where Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng revealed to Express.co.uk that the UK will phase out coal a decade sooner than Germany.
But that could now come back to bite Britain.
Gas is used for both home heating but also across swaths of industry.
Nord Stream 2 could prove problematic for Ukraine and Poland (Image: GETTY)
It is the UK’s main source of energy for power plants as coal is phased out.
And it comes as winter is just around the corner.
Barclays said Europe is facing a “perfect positive storm” as everything goes wrong at once.
A cold wet spring in Europe collided with a tightening of the EU’s emissions trading scheme as permits are dialled down.
This has led to a threefold rise in carbon prices over barely more than a year to €62 (£53) a tonne, causing a switch in usage from coal to gas.
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Russia has a tight grip on gas supplies in Europe (Image: GETTY)
The latest perverse twist is that gas prices have reached such exorbitant levels that coal is suddenly coming back from the dead.
Francisco Blanch, chief energy strategist at Bank of America, said: “The storage situation in Europe has turned increasingly dire, with winter quickly approaching.”
Mr Putin is said to be trying to force Germany not to implement EU law across the pipeline.
Under EU anti-trust rules, Russia will have to split up control of its new gas pipeline to Germany.
A German court ruled that Gazprom, the Russian state gas-supplier which owns the pipeline, will have to cede day-to-day running of its operations to an independent third party under EU laws designed to limit energy monopolies.
Britons could feel the impact (Image: GETTY)
It will also have to auction half of its capacity to be used by competitors in Europe, the court said.
Professor Alan Riley, a specialist in EU energy law at the Atlantic Council, said the Kremlin is challenging the EU’s legal order in its largest sense, aiming to force the Commission to sweep aside rulings already reached by the European Court.
Martien Visser, head of corporate strategy at the European energy operator Gasunie, said many are now praying for a warm winter.
He said: “The UK doesn’t have enough for its own demand. The real risk is going to be in February, March, and April.
“I am a bit concerned. The market is not sure there is going to be enough gas in Europe if there is a cold winter.”