Russia profited massively off its oil and gas sales throughout the ongoing global energy crisis, meaning that it could forgo selling gas to Europe this winter, according to IEA Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol.
Russia raked in record profits on oil and gas in the first quarter of 2022 and has seen massive energy export revenues in the last five months, making nearly three times what it normally makes from exporting fuel to Europe during the winter, according to data from the International Energy Agency. Putin would therefore be able to hoard gas during winter and place even more pressure on the European Union, which is already desperate for energy amid soaring fuel prices and record inflation numbers. (RELATED: ‘Especially Perilous’: Europe Encouraged To Ration Gas Supplies Ahead Of Winter)
“Russia could decide to forgo the revenue it gets from exporting gas to Europe in order to gain political leverage,” Birol said in a commentary piece on Monday.
Russia’s recent reduction of gas exports comes amid EU sanctions that were imposed due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
“It is the EU’s fault that Russia is making a killing on selling natural gas,” Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“President Trump warned EU leaders in 2018 that Russia could reduce gas supplies and raise prices, and they ridiculed him,” he continued.
Due to Russia’s record profits and its ability to cut off fuel exports, the IEA implored Europe to stockpile gas and ration energy in preparation for the winter.
“Since its invasion of Ukraine, the amount of revenue that Russia has collected from exporting oil and gas to Europe has doubled compared with the average of recent years – to $95 billion,” Birol stated.
European countries like Germany are accusing of Moscow reducing fuel supplies that come through the Nord Stream pipeline and are afraid that Russia will permanently stop its gas flows, The Associated Press reported.
“Putin could very well threaten to temporarily forego export revenues and shut off Europe’s gas this winter,” E.J. Antoni, an economist at The Heritage Foundation, told the DCNF.
“In the summer, such a move is economically devastating but, in the winter, it means people freezing to death,” he said.
As the energy crisis continues, the EU is trying to diversify its fuel sources. However, the IEA still recommends that the EU fill its gas storage to 90% capacity even if Russia continues supplying the continent.
Europe’s gas storages were below 5% in March, the month of most recent data, according to the IEA.
“Unfortunately, the United States could have been able to export its own natural gas to Europe on a large scale, but Biden’s policies have effectively prevented that,” Antoni stated. “Instead, Biden is selling off America’s strategic energy reserves to China, while Putin has Europe over a barrel.”
The IEA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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