Foreign Affairs

Amid West mulls oil import ban over Ukraine invasion, Russia threatens to cut Europe gas supply

Nord Stream 1

Russia’s statements on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline come after a day of dramatic fluctuations on European gas markets with prices rising by nearly 80% at one point due to fears of Russian supply disruption. As part of its retaliation to sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has threatened to stop natural gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a move that might exacerbate energy market turbulence and drive consumer prices even higher.

In an address on Russian state television, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is also in charge of energy matters, stated that Russia has the right to make moves that “reflect” the sanctions imposed on the Russian economy. He stated that no decision has been made to shut down Nord Stream 1 and that the pipeline is currently functioning “at full capacity.”

The continent’s leaders’ efforts to agree on how to respond to the invasion of Ukraine have been hampered by Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project was shelved by Berlin last month, and European Union officials say they’re working on a plan that may reduce the bloc’s import demands from Russia by about 80% this year. However, many EU lawmakers are leery of taking immediate action, which is one reason Germany has resisted calls for an oil import restriction. Russian oil and gas are “vital” to the European economy, according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Russia supplies over 40% of the EU’s gas and one-quarter of its oil.

Gas prices soared after soaring as high as 79 percent on Monday in some of Europe’s most turbulent trading conditions ever. Last year, Nord Stream, Russia’s main gas export route to Europe, transported 59 billion cubic meters of gas, accounting for roughly 40% of the country’s total exports to Europe. The continent’s leaders’ efforts to agree on how to respond to the invasion of Ukraine have been hampered by Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project was shelved by Berlin last month, and European Union officials say they’re working on a plan that may reduce the bloc’s import demands from Russia by about 80% this year.

If the US and EU restrict Russian oil imports, Novak said, Russia has alternative options for exporting its oil, and he warned that such a move could have “catastrophic effects for the world market,” with prices soaring to $300 a barrel or more.

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