"Unreliable" Russian Gas Gives EU a New Reason for Green Transition

File image courtesy Gazprom

Published Feb 24, 2022 9:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a press conference Thursday night, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU's plans for a green hydrogen economy are now a national security issue, not just an environmental issue. 

Faced with the prospect of a newly-aggressive Russia on its eastern borders, the EU is no longer as comfortable relying upon Russian natural gas for its energy needs as it may have been last month. A diversified natural gas supply chain and an eventual transition to green hydrogen could offer a way out, according to von der Leyen.

At a press conference Thursday, von der Leyen and other EU officials were asked about the moral aspect of continuing to buy Russian oil and gas - the proceeds of which may help finance Russia's war in Ukraine. von der Leyen said that this is one of the reasons why Europe must invest in the green transition. 

"We have to look at the fact that today, we are indeed too dependent on Russian fossil fuels," said von der Leyen. "Russia has proven not to be a reliable supplier, and we have to do everything to reduce this dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal."

Europe sources at least 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia, and Russian state gas company Gazprom has provided its European customers with the minimum contractually required flow this winter - far less gas than it usually sells. The low supply flows have sent spot prices soaring to record levels on the European market. Storage levels are below the historical average, but von der Leyen said that she believes that EU officials have sourced adequate alternative LNG supplies to last through the winter, even if Russia shuts off the tap altogether. 

"The motto is to get rid of the Russian gas, and go deep into the renewables, and this will be our new strategy [which] we have to intensify," said von der Leyen. "One of the solutions is if I look at the gas sector, to work with the suppliers for LNG gas. It has the advantage that we have the terminals, we have the pipeline network all over the EU, so from wherever the LNG gas is landing, it can be brought to every part of the EU. But it also has a second big advantage. This whole infrastructure can be used over time for green hydrogen. We do not have to build a new infrastructure, we can use all these pipelines."