mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Energy Woes
Beware, Europe: Winter Is Coming

When the tug-of-war between the EU and Russia over Ukraine really began to escalate this spring, many analysts pointed out that it was happening at an opportune time for the West. Events were heating up along with the weather, which meant demand for natural gas—arguably Moscow’s strongest geopolitical lever in Europe—was at a cyclical low point. But the mercury will drop later this year, and when it does, European policymakers will have a potential gas supply crisis on their hands.

That’s because, despite efforts to work around it, roughly 40 percent of Europe’s Russian gas supplies transit Ukraine. Kiev and Moscow have been squabbling over gas prices and unpaid bills for months now, and just recently Russia decided to cut off supplies to Ukraine, moving to a pay-as-you-go model. For now, that hasn’t been keenly felt. Ukraine has plenty of gas in storage, and demand is low while temperatures are high. But when winter comes, and demand goes up, most expect Ukraine to start siphoning off the supply passing through from east to west, and that spells bad news for the rest of Europe. The FT reports:

Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of Total, the French oil major, told the Financial Times that Europe could struggle to find alternative sources of supply, even without Moscow retaliating against western sanctions by cutting energy supplies.

“Not only Total but the industry is saying: be careful. It has nothing to do with an embargo. But if for technical reasons, if for sabotage reasons there is a shortage, yes, we will have difficulties in providing gas from other sources,” he said.

European policymakers have agitated for the U.S. to start exporting its shale gas in liquid form, but for a number of reasons that won’t be an effective solution. Europe has some hard months ahead of it, but it should use this as an opportunity to exploit its own shale energy reserves, and fully embrace nuclear energy as a significant supply of green baseload power.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It’s clear that Germany could turn its Nuclear reactors back on which it foolishly turned off.

  • LarryD

    An energy shortage during winter might knock some sense into the Greens.

    • Rick Johnson

      You appear to be assuming that is possible.

      The Greens exist in a parallel universe to humans. In that universe there is no need for energy. Gia magically provides for all their wants and needs

      • LarryD

        “Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

        It’s easy to maintain a delusion as long as the negative consequences fall on someone else. Harder to do when the reality check inescapably hits you upside the head. The question is: what is the distribution of clinical delusion among the Greens?

        • S.C. Schwarz

          “It’s easy to maintain a delusion as long as the negative consequences fall on someone else.”

          If only that were true. The US right now is suffering the woes of green ideology: Slow or no economic growth, high and persistent unemployment, stagnant middle-class wages and exploding government debt. I don’t say environmentalism is the only cause of these things, but it is a major contributor to all. And yet the left, supported enthusiastically by the MSM, denies all this and blames everything on… whatever is convenient.

          In other words, if you don’t understand the problem you aren’t going to be able to fix it, no matter how bad the pain.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service