The price of gas in Europe has increased dramatically in recent weeks, influenced by surging demands and insufficient production. The price of North Sea Brent crude approached the level of $80 per barrel for the first time in three years.
In the EU and the UK, gas storage facilities are now only about 72% full, the lowest they have been in 10 years, according to data from the Association for Gas Infrastructure in Europe.
Gas prices are the highest they have been since 2008, which has led to an increased demand for coal by regional power plants.
Europe imports 60% of its gas and more than 40% of these imports come from Russia. However, Gazprom has not increased its gas shipments to Europe even as concerns about shortages mount.
The Kremlin is using the price surge to emphasise the importance of long-term co-operation between Europe and Russia, especially when it comes to the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that is waiting for certification from German regulators.
“The early commissioning of Nord Stream 2 will significantly help balance natural gas prices in Europe – this is obvious,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The European Parliament has accused Gazprom of artificially restricting fuel supply to Europe in order to promote the speedy approval of the Nord Stream 2. The US State Department has called on Russia to increase gas supplies to Europe, a demand the Kremlin has dismissed as “propaganda.”
This article originally appeared in FPRI's BMB Russia newsletter. Click here to learn more about BMB Russia and subscribe to the newsletter.