Gazprom was preparing for war, energy minister says
Russia's state-owned utility company Gazprom was "preparing for the war in Ukraine" by not replenishing its European gas storages last year, Luxembourg's energy minister said as European countries are rethinking their energy dependence on Putin's Russia.
Gas stocks become empty during the winter months when households consume more energy to heat their homes. They are then filled up again over the spring and summer months in anticipation of the next cold season.
"Gazprom, which is the owner of gas storages in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria did not refill them like it did in previous years - in fact, Gazprom was preparing for the war in Ukraine already since last spring and we were naïve to ignore it", Energy Minister Claude Turmes told the newspaper Paperjam on Wednesday.
Europe's economy is reliant on a steady flow of gas from Russia - which supplies about half of Germany's gas imports - but Putin's decision to invade Ukraine has pushed leaders to reconsider the continent's long-term dependence on Russian gas.
Luxembourg, together with is neighbour Belgium, has storage facilities that can hold only four days worth of gas, Turmes said, meaning the country is also dependent on steady gas imports to keep the heating on. Over a quarter of that gas comes from Russia, he said.
However, Luxembourg's main imports are liquified natural gas from Norway that arrive in the Belgium port of Zeebrugge. The Grand Duchy is not dependent on Russian gas to the same extent as Germany is, Turmes said.
European natural gas surged more than 20% on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin said Russia will start demanding payments in rubles from buyers it deems “unfriendly" in a move to prop up the wounded national currency.
Also on Wednesday, the EU Commission adopted a draft regulation that requires countries to ensure that storages are filled up to 80% before next winter and 90% in the following years.