The total interruption of gas supplies from Russia to Europe is now not just a risk but an increasingly concrete hypothesis. The alarm was sounded by the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Faith Birol interviewed by the Financial Times. Birol warned that “Europe should be ready in case the flow of Russian gas is completely cut off”, adding: “The closer we get to winter, the more we understand Russia’s intentions.” In addition to providing for “ever greater and more profound measures on demand” by European governments, the chief executive of the IEA not only did not rule out the risk of rationing, but said he considered it a real possibility in the event of further cuts.
Vladimir Putin’s strategy in the energy field seems to be aimed at verifying the resilience of Europe with an intermittent closure of supplies in order to arrive at the winter in which gas can be used as a weapon of pressure towards EU countries. The director of the IEA explained in which direction Moscow is moving: “I believe that the cuts are aimed at preventing Europe from filling its warehouses with stockpiles and increasing Russia’s leverage in the winter months”.
It is precisely on the need to fill the stocks that the Italian strategy moves as underlined by the CEO of Eni Claudio Descalzi: «If we are unable to fill the stocks, I am not saying 90% but at least 80%, we could have problems this winter. This is why storage is absolutely necessary ». For the moment, gas supplies from Russia have stabilized after a reduction of 15-25% and then 50%, reaching 32-33 million cubic meters per day, even if this is half of the previous levels. Despite this, the price of gas on the Amsterdam list continues to grow – a reference point for Europe: it concluded at 127 euros per megawatt hour, up by 1.2% compared to the previous day, an increase that seems unstoppable for several now. months.
Meanwhile, the debate on the gas price ceiling is taking place in Europe and, according to what is learned from qualified sources in Brussels, there is no consensus among the EU leaders, with those who argue that we already suffer several market disruptions and a price cap would risk to aggravate the situation. The Italian position is different, with Prime Minister Draghi among the main sponsors of a price ceiling that three weeks ago got the Commission to receive a mandate to study its feasibility.
Waiting for answers, energy is one of the main topics on the table of the European Council today and tomorrow but, despite being considered “a priority”, no operational decisions are expected but only the intention to “plan the work for September or October », as a senior EU official explains. If this were the case, the risk of arriving at late decisions with a situation already compromised is concrete, while the priority should be to anticipate any retaliation by Russia thus making the energy weapon ineffective.