EU seeks increase in gas supplies amid Russian crisis
The European Commission is seeking additional gas deliveries from its supply partners amidst escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on January 24 after a meeting of EU energy ministers in France.
Simson said the EU would remain "extremely vigilant" regarding the energy crisis, and would look to increase preparations for any supply emergencies.
"The commission is also discussing with our partners the potential to increase supplies to Europe," the commissioner said, noting she would attend the Southern Gas Corridor ministerial meeting in Azerbaijan on February 4 and the EU-US Energy Council in Washington on February 7.
Opened in 2018, the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) network of pipelines delivers up to 10bn m3/year of gas to Europe from the BP-operated Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan. Shah Deniz has already reached its full two-phase production capacity of 25bn m3/yr, although some of its supply that is sent to Turkey could in theory be diverted to Europe. But Turkey would in turn have to resort to extra Russian supply, as well as LNG, to cover demand.
There are plans to increase SGC's capacity in order to handle gas from other fields in Azerbaijan, but this expansion, if it is sanctioned, would take years to be completed.
Meanwhile, the US Biden administration has held regular talks with a number of countries and companies in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia about stepping up gas supply to Europe if transit via Ukraine is disrupted, CNN reported on January 24. But with the global market already extremely tight, it is unclear where these supplies could be sourced.
In the event of a steep cut in Russian gas flow, the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands could potentially provide Europe with a lifeline. The Dutch government has already said it expects to almost double the field's production quota for this gas year to 7.6bn m3, because of supply shortages.