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Is Europe’s Gas Storage Enough To Defy Putin?

Now that winter is over, it appears attempts by Vladimir Putin to use energy shortages to get his way in Ukraine have failed. Whether by direct military attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure or creating inflationary shortages of gas among Russia’s erstwhile customers in Western Europe, there has been a concerted attempt to wear down those opposing the invasion.

According to an analysis by the i newspaper, it is clear Putin’s blackmail flopped this year - but that does not mean the coast is clear.

On the one hand, through a rise in storage capacity from 25 per cent to 55 per cent, more imports of liquid natural gas and, ironically, the fact that higher energy prices prompted consumers to use less - all combined with a relatively mild winter to help Europe through. In the meantime, Russia is suffering from a huge loss of hydrocarbon export revenue.

However, the job is not yet done, according to EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson. She said: “The test is not over. We have just won the first battle and there is still a long fight ahead of us.”

She argued that Europe still needs to do more to boost gas storage capacity next winter, as well as taking other steps such as investing in renewables and cutting unnecessary demand.

While there has been plenty of attention paid to the low storage capacity of the UK and the belated reopening of the Rough Storage Facility in the autumn, the Financial Times reports that Germany could be the country most at risk next winter.

It highlighted the warning of head of the Federal Network Agency Klas Muller, who told the paper: “the danger of a gas shortage is still there”. Among the potential perils are a harsher winter next time and increased global prices caused by China’s economic recovery after ending its zero-Covid strategy.

More storage and reduced use next winter could be vital for the country, he stated.

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