Expected but feared by a continent highly dependent on the Russian giant for energy, the ax fell on Monday September 5: Russia announced shut off the gas tap to Europe altogetherdemanding the end of the sanctions decided following the invasion of Ukraine so that the flow resumes.
If Europe, it is sometimes explained, is a little better prepared what awaits it only several months ago – Germany, for example, succeeded in replenish inventory a little faster than expected–, the turbulence to come promises to be immense.
Explosion of the continent’s energy bill to 2,000 billion dollars in 2023 according to Goldman Sachs, or 15% of European GDP; obligation for the Union and the governments of the area to intervene using extremely expensive plans to help their citizens and save their economies; turbulence at 1.500 billion dollars on the energy markets because margin calls: the tremors continue and are likely to intensify for a while.
And as Europe tries to survive the doldrums and the coming winter, what is Gazprom, the Russian gas company, doing? She scoffs, with a rather astounding cynicism.
Grandiose and dramatic, the soundtrack is in keeping with this great scary spectacle: “The winter will be long, only composed of dust and snow”can we hear there..
“Winter will be big – only dusk and snow”
About absolutely nothing, Gazprom releases an eerie two-minute video showing how a cold winter will freeze Europe to death pic.twitter.com/3KSmbhWe59
— Max Fras (@maxfras) September 5, 2022
And as if this edifying clip were not enough to put on the teeth of Europeans inevitably frightened by the frosts to come and their cost for the wallets, the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, has put his foot in the dish by reminding journalists, while she was in Indonesia for a G20 meeting, of what happens when you cut off a pipeline and its flows like this.
It creates, logically, a surplus of gas. A surplus that Russia, whose vats are already full, cannot store; nor can it redirect it to other horizons and other customers, for lack of dedicated infrastructure or signed contracts.
As the BBC already reported at the end of Augustthe only solution is therefore to release or burn, quite simply, this energy which is too much on one side, but which is sorely lacking on the other. “Our satellites detect methane leaks, or factories burning this natural gas, which is very polluting”explained Kadri Simon. “They don’t have pipeline connections to other parts of the world, and Russia has no more storage space available.”
The sightings reported by the BBC, which already followed the reduction in the flow of gas to Germany, concerned a factory on the border between Russia and Finland.
This single unit, experts believed, burned directly in the atmosphere (the famous flaring) 4.34 cubic meters of gas every day, or the equivalent of just over $10 million going up in smoke – or rather in extremely damaging emissions for the environment.
It is quite probable that other factories, elsewhere in Russia, are reduced to proceeding with the same technique. In a terrible paradox, Gazprom and Russia are thus plunging Europe into the cold, while contributing to accelerating global warming, methane being one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases.