In the wake of the energy crisis, a furious gas war is going on between Russia on the one hand, and the EU and the US, on the other.
The EU is considering limiting the wholesale price of gas from all suppliers and the European Commission is trying to ensure that this is only done with Russian gas, in order to reduce Moscow’s revenue from that energy source, writes Večernje Novosti daily.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that the country would stop supplying gas if the EU made such a decision. He estimates that in such a situation the export of this Russian gas would be completely interrupted, including the gas arriving via Ukraine and the TurkStream, which also supplies Serbia via Bulgaria. Experts estimate that it is not in Russia’s best interest to give up the markets where it sells its natural gas.
However, bearing in mind that Bulgaria has proven to be a weak link in previous crisis situations and has always yielded to pressure from Brussels, even if it was extremely damaging for the country itself, there is a real fear that this could happen again. Bulgaria paid dearly for abandoning the South Stream project, thus also damaging Serbia because that gas pipeline was planned to pass through Serbia as well. After the conflict in Ukraine, Bulgaria gave up Russian gas by refusing to pay for it in the roubles. At that time, some Bulgarian experts even hinted at the possibility of that country stopping the transit of natural gas to Serbia and Hungary.
As things stand at the moment, the US and EU efforts to sever all energy ties with Russia are coming to an end. The only two routes through which Russian gas now reaches Europe are Ukraine and the TurkStream. However, experts believe that it is not convenient for Bulgaria to repeat the same mistakes.
“I do not expect Bulgaria to succumb to pressure from Brussels again, because it has paid dearly for abandoning the South Stream project and Belene nuclear power plant,” says energy expert Miloš Zdravković. TurkStream is operating at full capacity and other European countries, such as Slovakia and Austria, are also supplied with that gas from the direction of Hungary. It is certainly not in their best interest to put a stop to that.
Zdravković gives an example that shows who stands to gain in this situation. He says that the price of gas in the US is now around $300 per 1,000 cubic metres, while it is six times higher on European exchanges, standing at around $2,000. The price of gas, he adds, directly affects the price of electricity, which is why electricity is so expensive in Europe.
The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Szijártó, also drew attention to the safety of the TurkStream. As reported by the Hungarian media, Szijártó underlined that more attention must be paid to the safety of that pipeline in order to avoid incidents such as those related to Nord Stream 1 and 2. After that sabotage, he says that safe operation of the pipeline at the bottom of the Baltic is not guaranteed and that is why the importance of the TurkStream has grown. On Wednesday, at the meeting of energy ministers of the Organisation of Turkish States in Kazakhstan, he called on the leaders of the countries through which the TurkStream passes to pay close attention to how the pipeline operates.
Commenting on the possibility of an attack on the pipeline that carries gas to Serbia via Turkey, experts believe that it is very difficult to carry out such an attack. Gas expert Vojislav Vuletić points out that the TurkStream is under Russian and Turkish control in the Black Sea and notes that it would not be good for Bulgaria either for that to happen on its territory.
“I do not know who carried out the terrorist attack on the Nord Stream, but it is clear that America profits from it,” Zdravković points out and adds: “Moreover, it is a well-known fact that they (the US) have blocked the construction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the past and have stopped the construction of the South Stream. As for the TurkStream, it is under Russian and Turkish control, and it is much more difficult to carry out a terrorist attack since this pipeline lies very deep on the seabed unlike the pipeline in the Baltic, which is made in the shallowest part of water, near the island of Bronholm”.
Serbia has already stored sufficient quantities of natural gas. In Hungary, our country currently has 380 million cubic metres and is expected to increase this quantity to 500 million cubic metres. Banatski Dvor has stored a total of 560 million cubic metres of Serbian and Russian gas. Director of Srbijagas, Dušan Bajatović, has recently estimated that there is enough gas and that, according to the agreement with Russia, Serbia will pay an extremely low price for it, currently $368, in the next two quarters $420, and then $388 per 1,000 cubic metres.
(Biznis i Finansije, 03.10.2022)
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