Those who do not pay will not receive the gas, Putin said. Is it possible that he will cut off supplies to Europe? Technically, this is very easy, experts say, Deutsche Welle reports. But what will Russia do with the excess gas then?
To continue receiving Russian gas, foreign customers must make payments through accounts in Russia’s Gazprombank. This is provided by a decree signed by Russian President Putin. The bank in question will be able to receive both euros and dollars, and Gazprombank will exchange them for rubles. If payments stop, gas supplies will be cut off, Putin warned.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other Western government leaders have reacted calmly to this latest development. “In all cases, the following applies to companies: they want, can, and will continue to pay in euros,” Scholz said. Still, the threat of a gas cut is in the air. But can Russia stop them just like that?
Technically, the gas shutdown is possible
“From a purely technical point of view, gas supplies can be managed, ie it is possible to turn on the tap,” said Dominique Most, professor of energy economics at the Technical University of Dresden. Gas supplies to Europe could be stopped very quickly, he explained. All you have to do is close one valve.
The situation with stopping gas production is different. According to the head of the Ukrainian energy concern Naftogaz Yuri Vitrenko, quoted by the FAC, Russia simply can not stop this activity. “Drilling cannot be stopped just like that. It means that the extracted quantities cannot be sharply reduced, which means that the extracted gas will have to be burned. Therefore, I think that oil and gas will continue to flow through the pipes.” he says.
China as a buyer?
Russia could sell some of its gas in Asia, says Most. In recent years, Moscow has signed many supply agreements with China and India, and in early 2022 Russia and China signed a new supply agreement for 10 billion cubic meters. Russian gas annually for the next 30 years.
“However, this does not mean that Russia could sell all the gas it produces in China,” the expert explained. He reminded us that not every gas field is connected to a gas pipeline leading to China, and the existing pipelines are still filled.
In addition, China is not dependent on Russian gas, says Horst Lochel, head of the Sino-German Center at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. “China will not need Russian gas surpluses if Russia cuts off supplies to Europe,” he said. The People’s Republic can cover its energy needs with coal and nuclear energy. Gas supplies only serve China to permanently reduce carbon emissions, Lechel said.
Burning as a last resort
If Europe drops out as a buyer of Russian gas, in any case, some of the extracted quantities will have to be discarded. “One possibility is to burn the gas. However, this would be the last option for Putin, as it means destroying something that costs money,” Most said.
According to Russian energy expert Mikhail Krutikhin, the possible suspension of gas supplies will have severe consequences for Russia: “If Russia stops selling gas for a long time, some of the active drillings will have to be closed. Not all of them can then are being opened to restore production, “he said.
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