Europe hits energy supply ‘stress test’ amid sweltering heat

Xinhua News Agency, Brussels, June 23. Recently, Europe’s energy supply has encountered a “stress test”. In the rare high temperature weather, the Russian natural gas received by many countries has dropped sharply. As the game between sanctions and counter-sanctions intensifies, Europe’s big stick against Russia is obviously hurting itself. Please see the observation sent back from the front by a reporter from Xinhua News Agency——

In mid-to-late June, Spain, France, Italy and other European countries experienced high temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius for several days, and the temperature in some areas set new records for the same period in June.

At the same time, Russia’s Gazprom (Gazprom) has reduced its gas supply to Europe several times in recent days, and the energy supply of France, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and other countries has been urgent. According to DPA, the current gas supply of the “Beixi-1” natural gas pipeline is only 40% of the previous one. Among them, the gas supply received by Italy and Slovakia is only half of the previous one. In addition, Gazprom recently issued a statement saying that another “Turkey Stream” natural gas pipeline has also suspended gas transmission due to maintenance from June 21 to 28.

According to the Russian side, the failure of Siemens in Germany to return the repaired gas compressor parts on time affected the operation of the “Beixi-1” pipeline, resulting in a reduction in gas supply. But the European side said that this is actually a political game. Previously, Russia launched a ruble settlement order in order to counter Western sanctions, and has suspended gas supply to European countries such as Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

Since the end of February this year, Western countries led by the United States have imposed comprehensive and indiscriminate sanctions on Russia, including weaponizing energy sanctions. For example, in early June, the European Commission announced the sixth round of sanctions against Russia, including a partial oil embargo. As planned, the EU will stop importing Russian coal in August.

The ever-increasing sanctions did not bring the expected effect, but obviously aggravated the energy shortage in Europe. The backlash of the sanctions made the European people miserable. Energy prices in many European countries have risen sharply in recent months, driving the overall inflation rate to new highs. The European Central Bank has to prepare for the first interest rate hike in more than 10 years, and the European Commission has lowered its forecast for the EU’s economic growth this year and next. .

For this reason, there are still serious differences on sanctions within the EU. Opposition voices emphasized that the immediate “blocking” of Russian energy would hit the European economy hard, and warned that Europe would face multiple risks such as rising prices, declining manufacturing and production stagnation.

Russia is the EU’s largest supplier of natural gas and crude oil. Can Europe really reduce its dependence on Russian energy as soon as possible? The EU has indeed made frequent moves recently, but the difficulty factor is really not small.

On the one hand, European countries went to the Middle East, Africa and other places to find alternative energy suppliers, but some analysts pointed out that alternative sources have problems of long construction period and high cost. On the other hand, European countries originally restricted coal power generation in recent years and were committed to increasing the proportion of new energy. However, under the situation of tight energy supply, Germany, Austria, Greece, the Netherlands and other countries have recently announced the reopening of coal power plants, increasing coal production capacity, Relevant measures such as increasing the proportion of coal-fired power and restricting natural gas power generation are regarded as helpless “regressions” in terms of environmental protection and energy conservation.

According to the plan, the “Beixi-1” pipeline will have an annual overhaul in July, and the gas stop will be inevitable at that time. For the European people, this summer has not been easy. Some analysts pointed out that if Russia’s gas supply continues to decrease, Europe’s plan to increase its gas storage to 90% by the end of this year may fail. For many small and medium-sized enterprises and families in Europe, this winter is even more difficult. (Reporters: Li Jizhi, Kang Yi, Zhang Xuan, Wang Xiangjiang; Editing: Wang Yujue; Editors: Sun Hao, Lu Yu)