EU winter crisis as Belarus cuts off Russian electricity and gas until March | Sciences | New
Officials in Minsk said on Wednesday that Ukraine’s supplies will end on Thursday, according to established procedures. According to the Belarusian Ministry of Energy, the future renewal of access to electricity “will be considered by the Belarusian side, taking into account technical capacities”. The move was announced a day after German regulators suspended the approval process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia.
The approval process can now be delayed until March.
The move dealt a blow to the already fragile European energy market and the price of natural gas soared on Wednesday.
The global energy crisis has taken the continent by surprise and suppliers have struggled in recent months to meet the growing demand for energy.
Gas prices have already skyrocketed since the start of the year and many experts now fear that Europe will not have enough gas to keep homes warm this winter.
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Jeremy Weir, chief executive of commodities trading giant Trafigura, warned this week at the FT Commodities Asia summit that there was not enough gas stored for the cold months ahead.
He said: “So there is therefore a real concern that there is a potential if we have a cold winter that we may have blackouts in Europe.”
Europe is heavily dependent on gas imports outside the EU’s borders, with Russia being the bloc’s largest supplier.
But there are concerns that Moscow has deliberately suspended supplies to gain political clout and get the Nord Stream 2 pipeline approved.
Only then will the four-month certification process resume.
A German government source said: “I expect the start of Nord Stream 2 to be delayed until March 2022.”
Analysts at investment bank Goldman Sachs predict that the pipeline will not be operational until at least February.
They wrote: “The schedule for the start of the pipe now seems longer than we initially expected.”