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dependent on Russian gas, the European Union is looking for new suppliers

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A threat carried out. Failing to receive payments in rubles – and not in dollars as it demanded, Russia cut off the gas tap to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday 27 April. The Polish gas company PGNiG has confirmed “the complete cessation of the supply of natural gas provided by Gazprom under the Yamal contract”named after the gas pipeline that carried the gas to Poland.

→ ANALYSIS. War in Ukraine: Poland and Bulgaria deprived of Russian gas

Poland and Bulgaria reacted immediately to the halt in deliveries. Through the voice of its climate minister Anna Moskwa, Warsaw has ruled out any risk of a shortage, saying it is ready to “ total independence from Russian raw materials”. Same story with Sofia, who indicated that “actions to find alternative arrangements for the supply of natural gas and deal with the situation” have been undertaken.

Two countries dependent on Moscow

The European Union is getting organized for its part in order to compensate for the closure of the Russian gas pipelines. “Gazprom’s announcement is another attempt by Russia to gas blackmail us”denounced the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “Member States have contingency plans in place for such scenariosshe said in a statement. (…) A gas coordination group meeting is underway”.

The war in Ukraine has cast a harsh light on Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. Nearly 45% of its imports come from Moscow. In the case of Poland and Bulgaria, the priority is to quickly find alternative sources of supply. The two countries were indeed very dependent on Moscow in terms of energy: in 2020, 54% of the gas imported into Poland came from Russia. A proportion that exceeds 75% for Bulgaria.

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new suppliers

The stakes are high for Europeans: in addition to the two countries sanctioned by the Russian authorities, eleven EU countries have Russia as their main supplier. Among them, Estonia and Lithuania buy almost all of their gas in Moscow, where 66% of the gas imported into Germany comes mainly from. If Russia is the second gas supplier of France, Paris only buys 16% of its gas there.

→ ANALYSIS. The total shutdown of Russian gas would have a bearable cost for Europeans

Several options exist for sanctioned states. Poland recently completed the construction of the first liquefied natural gas terminal. This should be commissioned in the current year and will allow Warsaw to import gas from Norway.

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The suspension of deliveries had also been discussed between Europeans and Americans in recent weeks. “Part of this preparation has been to ask certain countries in Asia that have a supply surplus to provide it to Europe. We have done that in some cases, and it is an ongoing effort,” the White House said after Gazprom’s announcement.

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