European countries are looking for something to replace Russian gas

The big fear is that if Moscow continues to insist that the payment for natural gas supplies be in rubles, other countries will soon follow the fate of Poland and Bulgaria and stop receiving Russian gas.

On Monday, the European Union will discuss the extent to which energy companies’ attempts to maneuver in payment are a violation of sanctions. These are payments to Gazprombank in euros, which are automatically transferred to an account in rubles.

If the confrontation with Russia intensifies, the risk of a major gas crisis is very real. How do individual countries react?


Italy is rapidly reducing its volume: 11.4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas arrived in the Apennines last year, making Rome the European Union’s second-largest consumer of Russian gas. In the middle of next year, however, this will stop – the intention is to halve supplies in the coming months. To this end, new agreements have been signed with Angola, Congo, and Algeria. Italy is connected to the Trans-Mediterranean gas pipeline and can receive gas directly from North Africa. Rome is also negotiating with Qatar, Mozambique, and Azerbaijan.

In addition, the Italian government intends to save energy drastically. “Do we want peace or air conditioners?” Prime Minister Mario Draghi asked. The government has decided that the cooling of schools and public buildings in the summer will be up to 25 degrees, and the heating next winter – up to 19. This will save up to four billion cubic meters of gas per year.


Greece is seen as the future main distributor of natural gas for the Balkans. Initially, the plans called for limiting dependence on Turkey, but are now aimed at Russian supplies. The necessary infrastructure is provided by the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, the still unfinished interconnector with Bulgaria, and the new diversion to Northern Macedonia.

Even before the outbreak of war, the government in Athens decided to expand and modernize the liquefied gas terminal on the island of Revitusa. Other ports near Corinth and Alexandroupolis will also receive and store liquefied natural gas.

Greece meets about 30 percent of its energy needs with Russian gas, but this year two-thirds of Russian gas will be replaced by other imported gas, such as Azerbaijan. In the medium term, Greece also plans to explore its deposits to ensure its independence.

Greece was the first to promise help to Bulgaria. Deliveries can be made from the liquefied gas terminals, and the direction of the “Turkish Stream” can be reversed. The connection between Bulgaria and Greece, which has been under construction for 11 years, should be ready by June. The Greek government expects Gazprom to suspend supplies to the country in late May if payments are not made in rubles, as Moscow demands. The authorities in Athens have assured us that they are prepared for this scenario.


Like Bulgaria, Poland will also be fed by its neighbors. Energy ministers will discuss possible solutions in Brussels on Monday. Over the next few months, Poland can be supplied with gas through the almost completed pipeline from Lithuania, and if necessary, it can also receive gas from Germany. This would mean that Russian gas will continue to flow into Polish pipelines in a bypass way.

Gas storage facilities in Poland are three-quarters full, and the government has confidently said that full independence from Russian gas will be achieved by the end of April. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki emphasized the importance of the Baltic gas pipeline, which is currently under construction and will establish a link with Norway, where much of the future supply is expected to come from.

Poland has long been preparing to cut supplies from Russia. In recent years, energy independence has been largely a political project – relations between the right-wing populist government in Warsaw and Moscow were severely strained before the war, and Polish rulers feared blackmail attempts. Their fears were justified.

And the others?

Hungary is almost completely dependent on Russian gas and oil and has so far refused to change that. So far, Budapest has not supported the European Union’s energy sanctions. The reason is the closeness of Prime Minister Viktor Orban with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

France receives only 20 percent of its gas from Russia and is therefore little affected. However, there is no gas connection with Spain, from where Algerian or liquefied gas could be supplied.

Lithuania is the best in Europe. It was the first EU country to completely suspend Russian gas imports since the start of the war. Since then, a liquefied natural gas terminal near the city of Klaipeda has supplied the country, for example from Norway. The terminal’s capacity is significantly higher than consumption, which is why Lithuania can also supply its neighbors with natural gas, Vilnius said.

Although warned for years by the EU and the United States, Germany remains the largest importer of Russian gas and has come under enormous pressure since the start of the war. Most recently, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that giving up gas would not be possible before 2024. Germany does not even have a liquefied gas supply terminal. As for oil imports, the federal government has changed its position and may agree to impose an embargo.

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