Strive as it would, Europe simply cannot dump Russia.
President Vladimir Putin was given a heat welcome in Vienna on Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of Austria changing into the primary western nation to import Soviet gasoline in the course of the Chilly Warfare.
It is a uncommon go to: The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine in 2014, and has condemned its connection to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.
“It’s uncommon for any European chief to obtain President Putin for a state go to within the capital given the present tensions between Russia and Europe,” mentioned Kristine Berzina, senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the US.
However the hostility ends in terms of power, as European leaders are effectively conscious that hundreds of thousands of houses could be with out heating if Russia turns off the gasoline faucets.
Imports from Russia are rising
The European Union imports 69% of its pure gasoline, in response to the European Fee. The most recent obtainable information reveals 37% of the imported gasoline comes from Russia, about 33% from Norway, and 11% from Algeria.
And whereas the European Union vowed to chop its dependency on Russian gasoline after the disaster in Ukraine, Russian exports to Europe have risen to document ranges within the final two years.
Austrian imports of Russian gasoline practically doubled within the first quarter of 2018, in comparison with final yr.
“There are lots of causes for this, specifically the decline of manufacturing within the Netherlands, the truth that some [liquified natural gas] developments have been delayed, and in addition the truth that Russian gasoline could be very aggressive when it comes to value,” mentioned James Henderson, director of the Pure Gasoline Analysis Programme on the Oxford Institute for Power Research.
“In actuality, Russian gasoline is the most suitable choice,” he added.
A variety of EU nations, significantly these closest to Russia, are nonetheless nearly utterly depending on Moscow for his or her gasoline.
What’s extra, a lot of Russia’s pure gasoline is pumped by means of Ukraine, a dangerous route given the battle between the 2 nations.
Russia wants Europe, too
Russia has up to now used Ukraine’s dependency on its power as a manner of exerting stress on the nation. Some European leaders are fearful that Russia may undertake the identical technique in direction of the European Union in retaliation for sanctions.
“However this has probably not occurred,” mentioned Marco Siddi, senior analysis fellow on the Finnish Institute of Worldwide Affairs.
“Sixty-seven p.c of Russia’s tax revenues comes from power exports, Russia wants this commerce much more that the European Union,” he added
Plans for a brand new gasoline pipeline that may bypass Ukraine have been within the works for years, however Europe is deeply divided over the venture.
Opponents say the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would solely enhance the European Union’s dependence on Russian power. However Germany and another nations argue that it might give Europe extra power safety.
“The political weight that’s given to the gasoline relationship differs from nation to nation,” mentioned Berzina. “I might argue in Austria, and in Germany … the financial ties round power are given outsized political weight.”
Dependent for many years
Nonetheless, the European Union has taken some steps to wean itself off Russian gasoline. It has invested in liquefied pure gasoline import terminals in Poland and Lithuania, making it doable to make use of different suppliers.
American producers have been making an attempt to export extra pure gasoline to Europe, however they largely have not been capable of supply costs that may compete with Russia.
Europe has additionally constructed higher pipeline hyperlinks between nations, so it could possibly ship gasoline backwards and forwards the place wanted, whereas conserving costs aggressive.
Nonetheless, Europe is more likely to stay depending on Russian gasoline for many years to come back.
“Europe is a significant power importing area. There aren’t many choices aside from lowering gasoline utilization total,” mentioned Henderson.
CNNMoney (London) First revealed June 5, 2018: 11:37 AM ET