Thursday, April 14, 2022

Switching Off Putin - The Plan to End Europe's Imports of Russia's Natural Gas

This recent publication from Mark Lynas, Rauli Partanen and Joris van Dorp of RePlanet:


...examines how Europe can hit Vladimir Putin's Russia below the belt.  Not surprisingly, given RePlanet's values which are as follows:


...and vision which is as follows:


...the authors' belief is that Europe can immediately stop buying fossil fuels from Russia if, and this is key, the members of the European Union are:


"...prepared to implement a radical plan for fuel switching and continent-wide energy rationing...."


The authors state that "....with sufficiently ambitious actions by individuals, companies and governments, we can get rid of Russian fossil fuel imports - not by 2028, but immediately."


Here is the authors' open call to the leadership of Europe:


The report opens with this statement:


"The brutality of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has shocked the world. The Russian dictator is now formally accused of war crimes by the United States, and sanctions have been imposed by democratic countries across the world. However, even while condemning Russia’s actions - and sending military assistance to Ukraine - European countries are continuing to fund Putin’s war machine by buying fossil fuels from Russia. It is estimated that half a billion euros per day

flow back to the Kremlin in return for Russian gas, oil and coal. This financial support to Putin undermines the sanctions regime and is morally unjustifiable while Russian bombs and missiles rain down on Ukrainian schools and hospitals.


The Ukrainian government has asked Europe to stop buying Russian fossil fuels. We can and must answer this call."


The authors back their plans for Europe and its energy needs with the reasoning that the world is now experiencing a war that necessitates the implementation of a war economy and energy rationing approach, invoking the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan as templates for what lies ahead if Europe wants to wean itself from Russian energy


Here is a graphic from the report which shows Russian energy imports into Europe for 2019:



While the authors examine Europe's use of natural gas, oil and coal, to keep this posting to a reasonable length, I will only examine the natural gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) aspect of the report.


According to the report, in total during 2021, Europe imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia which is broken down into 140 billion cubic metres by pipeline and 15 billion cubic metres in the form of LNG.  In order to offset/replace this gas, the following actions will be required:


LNG diversification and pipeline switching: 30 bcm.


EU-wide energy saving; roughly 10 bcm per 1C reduction in buildings heat. With thermostats at 18C (reduced from 22C): total 40 bcm.


Fast-track deployment of additional solar PV and wind: 6 bcm.


Stop nuclear phase-out and restart recently closed reactors in Germany, Sweden and Belgium but without using Russian uranium: 14 bcm.


Emergency effort to better utilise French reactor fleet (i.e. restart the reactors that are currently shut down): 26 bcm.


Heat pumps to reduce gas demand in heating, and emergency energy efficiency measures in buildings: 4 bcm.


Gas to oil in power stations: 6 bcm.


Gas to coal in power stations: 22 bcm.


Curtailment to industry: 7 bcm.


The report notes that Russia supplies 40 percent of the EU's gas consumption  and, that on March 2, 2022, the daily value of gas imports hit $755 million.


Here is a graphic showing the impact of each action during the first year (defined as 2022 aid the winter of 2022/2023):


You may have missed that fuel switching to punish Putin will require that natural gas be replaced with coal, however, the authors state that this can be done without an additional emissions burden to the climate during the first year of implementation since the switch from carbon-intensive gas to coal is outweighed by the overall reduction in emissions by using no Russian fossil fuels.  They also note that it is inconceivable that Germany, which is highly dependent on Russia's hydrocarbons, could get through next winter without using coal if Russia's natural gas is not utilized.  That said, the authors clearly state that any gas to coal and gas to oil fuel switching be allowed for one year only to avoid blackouts and a devastating economic collapse.  The use of coal can be retired as so-called clean energy comes online.


Under the section of the report entitled "War Economy in Europe" we find the following with my bolds:


"Achieving these cuts will require a previously unimaginable level of cooperation and solidarity within Europe. We may need a state of emergency declared, and an explicit political recognition that European economies are now on a war footing in terms of the rapidity of the energy transition. In some ways the speed of the change will resemble the Covid lockdowns, but with a different trajectory in the longer term.


The measures we propose above should enable Europe to get through the rest of this summer and also next winter. However in order that the sacrifice is shared fairly - essential if social cohesion is to be maintained in a war economy - there must be an element of rationing which is not simply the price mechanism. Allowing sky- high prices to be the main instrument of rationing will be socially regressive and undermine the consensus needed to underpin the war effort, which will be agitated and magnified by pro-Putin actors both in Europe and in social media platforms.


Rationing via fair shares is the only alternative: governments will need to introduce price caps and guaranteed minimum supplies at the household levels so that everyone gets a basic amount and those with less ability to pay are not simply cut off. Turning down thermostats will be difficult to mandate and enforce, but with only a certain amount of gas allowed per household the incentive to stick to it will be substantial. As with Covid lockdowns, social pressure to abide by national restrictions will also play a big part."


Ah yes, yet another excuse for a society-wide lockdown and using psychological means (i.e. social pressure) to achieve the mandated goals imposed by the ruling class.


Let's look at the medium- to long-term recommendations:


1.) Large-scale solar PV installations (while minimizing competition with farmland and still protecting nature) aiming at 400 GW by 2025.


2.) Large-scale onshore and offshore wind, aiming at 400 GW by 2025.


3.) Reactor restarts wherever possible in more recently closed nuclear facilities and further improving capacity factors and doing power uprates across the continent.


4.) Electrification of transport and heating in order to permanently reduce oil and gas demand.


5.) New interconnectors with a higher capacity to share electricity between EU nations to balance intermittent renewables and facilitate export of nuclear-generated electricity from France


Here are some concluding comments from the report:

"Europe is not energy-dependent on Putin by accident. This is a trap the Russian dictator laid over many years for a generation of European politicians, a trap which he has now sprung. In his arrogance, Putin thinks we will lack the courage and strength to stand up to him. He thought the same about the Ukrainians.  With their unity and bravery, they proved him wrong – and so can we.


Yes, that sneaky Putin has been up to no good for decades, deluding Europe's politicians into becoming dependent on Russia's hydrocarbons for their existence (sarcasm intended).

While all of this sounds just wonderful, the authors seem to have completely ignored this:

In March 2022 when Vladimir Putin visited China, Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports, signed a 30-contract to supply Chinese state energy major CNPC with 10 billion cubic metres of gas annually through a new pipeline which should be completed in two to three years with the contract to be settled in euros, another kick in the teeth for the U.S. dollar.  Here is a map from Gazprom showing the company's pipeline infrastructure noting that there is currently only one pipeline into China which is known as Power of Siberia:


Here is another map showing Power of Siberia 2 which will unite natural gas transmission infrastructure across eastern and western Russia: 



The Power of Siberia 2 pipeline will export up to 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually to China via Mongolia generating $400 billion in revenue for Russia over its 30 year life.


Power of Siberia was commissioned in 2019 as shown on this video:


Thanks to the pipeline, beginning in 2019, Russia exported 16.5 billion cubic metres of  natural gas (2021 data) to China.  The new natural gas pipeline for which a contract was signed in March 2022 would deliver up to 50 billion cubic metres.  China is also a big importer of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Russia, importing nearly 401,000 tons from Russia in February 2022, twice as much as was imported in January 2022.  When looking at natural gas overall, in 2021, Russia was China's third-largest supplier of natural gas when including both pipeline and LNG. 


While these volumes don't make up for the losses in sales to Europe, China and its voracious appetite for energy will be only too happy to step in and make good use of the natural gas that Europe is weaning itself from all in the name of making a political point.   One also has to wonder if this isn't just an end run around the ruling class' plan to have the useless eaters cut back on their use of hydrocarbons by capping usage all in the name of saving the planet from the ravages of anthropogenic climate change.  Unfortunately, the only ones to suffer in the medium- and long-term will be Europe's serf class who will learn the hard lessons taught by the proposals to ration energy to punish Russia.

So, if the plan recommended by RePlanet is implemented, who will be getting the last laugh?  Putin and Xi or Europe's political leaders?  I think that the answer is very obvious and it isn't the people that will be forced to ration their use of hydrocarbons.


  1. IIRC the USSR started shipping gas to the west sometime in the 1960's or very early 70's. Gad! That teenage proto-dictator started his dastardly plan as a young teenager!

  2. delusional on so many levels, like most of western propaganda it seems to work in on itself, one enormous circle jerk. The damage caused to an already collapsing western economy would be catastrophic, if any victory were to be had it would be Pyricc only. The hatred of the Russophobes and their inability to effect the real state of affairs in Russia is approaching levels of psychopathy. I'd love them to try though, they will kill tens of thousands of European lives and drive many countries over the edge and into siocial disorder. Russia is winning the war and will complete its objectives, the West will lose and have to deal with the far reaching social, geopolitical and economic fall out which is going to be long lasting and painful, causing maximal political fallout. The US and UK, the prime drivers of this whole failure for the last 8 years had the chance to do something in the beginning but like the cowards they are they ran from the battlefield and left Ukraine in the lurch, like they so often do with their disposable assets. Now it is too late. We still haven't seen serious counter sanctions from Russia yet either (rubles for gas is not sanctions) More pain to come for the West, drivel like this effort will not help any of that.

    1. If there is one thing that we've learned over the past two years it's that the general public is very easily propagandized. Your points tell me that you have clearly seen beyond the nonsense that the Western media is promoting and that you have a finely honed sense of critical thinking, something that is sadly lacking in society today.