Russia could cut Europe's gas supply by 40% - economist warns

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Europeans will soon "pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.09 22 Feb 2022

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Russia could cut Europe's gas...

Russia could cut Europe's gas supply by 40% - economist warns

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.09 22 Feb 2022

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An economist says gas rationing could become a reality if Russia pulls supplies from Europe.

John Fitzgerald was speaking as the European Union agreed sanctions against several people and entities in Russia.

This includes 351 members of Russia's Duma and 27 individuals and entities who are "undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."


The EU says the measures will cover political, military, business and media sectors.

While former Russian president, and deputy chairman of its security council, Dmitry Medvedev says a decision to halt a Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline by Germany will soon see Europeans "pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas".

John Fitzgerald is adjunct professor in economics at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

He told The Hard Shoulder Russia could hit Europe hard.

"Europe gets 30 to 40% of its gas from Russia, and Russia started choking off supplies last autumn.

"Russia was preparing for this crisis in Ukraine - so already the rise in energy prices, in particular gas and electricity prices, has been driven by Russian policy".

He says the economy would suffer as a result.

"On terms of energy, Russia has the ability to choke off 30 to 40% of Europe's gas supplies.

"Or alternatively Europe might, through sanctions, restrict supplies of gas from Russia.

"Such a big reduction in supply would have huge consequences for the European economy.

"And for that reason, [Russian President] Putin might well use it as an instrument".

If the gas supply is disrupted, Prof Fitzgerald says there is a contingency plan ready to go.

"Europe has an arrangement where if there is a shortage, Europe will share out the supplies equitably among EU members.

"And I would envisage that, because Ukraine gets all its gas from Russia, if they're cut off Europe will supply Ukraine - so they'll be cut in on the deal."

But he believes Britain would also partake in any such sharing-out of supplies.

"I would expect that the United Kingdom would, unusually, participate in any European sharing-out of gas."

'Massive further price rise'

He says this could see a rationing of gas supplies to customers.

"But the sharing-out would have major consequences for us all. 30% less gas - what do we do? We will probably prioritise electricity.

"The alternative to sharing it out and rationing is a massive further rise in price.

"And I don't think that would be the best solution for anybody.

"But rationing is complicated with gas: how do you... say 'You can heat your house today but not tomorrow?'

"How do you make that happen - I don't know - so the logistics of a shortage of gas would be complicated."

However, Prof Fitzgerald says such a strategy by Russia would see Europe move away in the medium-term.

"If [Putin] pulls the plug on this, short-term he can cause chaos in Europe.

"But what Europe will do will be [to] invest in liquified natural gas - and start importing their gas long-term.

"And Russia would suffer a permanent loss of income in the long-term.

"But I think Putin is thinking pretty short-term at the moment".

Russia could cut Europe's gas supply by 40% - economist warns

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Main image: Composite image shows a gas supply check in an apartment in December 2016, and gas pipelines in Saint Petersburg, Russia in May 2016. Picture by: ITAR-TASS News Agency/Aliaksandr Klapkou/Alamy Stock Photo

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Contingency Plan Dmitry Medvedev EU Gas Rationing Gas Supply John Fitzgerald Putin Russia Trinity College Dublin Uk Ukraine

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