EU Ministers Unveil Plan to Weaken Russian Grip on Gas Supply
Europe's energy ministers have joined forces to establish a plan that will reduce their dependence on foreign gas and purchase supplies as a bloc as part of a larger effort to combat Russia's stake in the highly-coveted resource.
The plan is to purchase strategic gas reserves as a bloc with the goal of allegedly "countering" Russian efforts to cut supply and hike prices.
The Times reported that prior to the European Union energy meeting on Wednesday, discussions were largely overshadowed by global gas shortages and forthcoming price spikes that many believe will prompt an energy crisis across Europe over the cold winter months.
"We've seen huge price increases," said Dimitri Vergne, head of the energy team at the European Consumer Organization. "It's worrying ahead of the winter, when gas consumption will necessarily increase."
Gas accounts for over a fifth of the European Union's energy mix, although it varies across the bloc â€” Russia provides 41% of the bloc's gas.
Globally, the demand for gas has risen tremendously, and since the start of the year, wholesale gas prices in Europe have risen by 250%. Some of the European nations at stake include Germany, France and Spain.
Alexey Miller, the head of Russia's Gazprom, has warned that gas prices across Europe are more than likely to "reach new record highs" in the coming months.
The decrease in the volume of natural gas exports from Russia to northern Europe is a result of last year's harsh and prolonged winter that caused a storage capacity â€” the maximum volume of natural gas that can be stored at a storage facility.
Individual EU countries are already intervening to ease the energy crisis, with Spain taking the lead after announcing emergency measures to cap energy prices and profits. France has promised one-time payments of â‚¬100 (Â£86) for households struggling to pay their energy bills.
More recently, Annalena Baerbock, a German election candidate and leader of the Greens party, joined in on the chorus of individuals who have laid blame on Russia for gas issues.
Baerbock said that the German government should send a message to Moscow quoting, "Russia must stick to its promises and supply enough gas through the existing pipelines like it used to."
Meanwhile, the energy ministry's spokeswoman, Suzanne Ungrad, said on Wednesday that Russia was fulfilling existing supply deals and did not disregard any long-term contracts.
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