A fleet of ships carrying Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) has finally arrived from the US to Europe, pushing the EU’s gas imports to a record two year high. The surge of imports helped the EU, which is currently in desperate need of fuel as Russia decreased its supply of gas, pushing prices to record highs in the past year.
While these imports may be a commercial move for US gas companies, these shipments of liquefied natural gas will help offset reduced flows from Russia, the EU’s largest supplier.
This fresh injection of fuel helped reduce gas prices in the EU on Monday, as European gas prices have been halved from about 182 euros in mid-December to 88 euros, alleviating the energy crisis that has been hitting European households, sending bills rocketing and pushing many into fuel poverty.
Data analysed by Bloomberg shows that LNG gas imports in northwest Europe reached their highest levels since December 2019, before the pandemic.
While the gas imports may have alleviated the crisis temporarily, it is unlikely to solve the issue permanently, as European stockpiles are very low.
The gas crisis has intensified in recent weeks as the Yamal Europe pipeline, which sends gas into Germany from Russia, has been in reverse for three weeks, while other pipelines have recorded below-average flows.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of engineering Europe’s gas crisis, saying that the Kremlin is using its monopoly for political means.
Analysts have also accused the Kremlin of wielding its state-run gas companies as a political weapon while tensions climb in Ukraine.
However, Mr Putin’s plan to use Russian gas to further his agenda may be foiled after the news of US tankers arriving halved gas prices in the EU.
State firm Gazprom denied accusations of manipulating the prices, stating growing at-home demand was behind the move.
A Kremlin spokesperson added the pending decision around the Nord Stream 2 pipeline had no bearing on it either, adding it is a “purely commercial situation”.
The Nord Stream 2 is another Russian pipeline currently in the works and has Germany and the Kremlin locked in negotiations.
If the country greenlit the €10-billion (£8.4 billion) pipeline, it would deliver double the amount of gas from Russia, up to 110 billion cubic metres (BCM).
Germany and Brussels still need to supply final certification before it can operate, and the recent controversy has made its future uncertain.
Nord Stream 2 is opposed by Washington and especially several east European states, which say the pipeline will make the EU even more reliant on Russian gas, which already supplies 35 percent of the bloc’s gas needs.