Europe risks ‘significant’ gas shortages this winter: Total.

FT: “Europe faces a “significant risk” of gas shortages this winter if there is any disruption to Russian supplies through Ukraine, one of the continent’s leading energy executives has warned.”
“Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of Total, the French oil major, told the Financial Times that Europe could struggle to find alternative sources of supply, even without Moscow retaliating against western sanctions by cutting energy supplies.
“Not only Total but the industry is saying: be careful. It has nothing to do with an embargo. But if for technical reasons, if for sabotage reasons there is a shortage, yes, we will have difficulties in providing gas from other sources,” he said.
Mr de Margerie’s comments come as Kiev launches a military offensive in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to quell a pro-Russian separatist rebellion. The EU has joined the US in imposing sanctions on prominent Russians and Ukrainians, in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its role in escalating the conflict. Europe has also put Russia’s South Stream pipeline project on hold, which was designed to circumvent Ukraine.
Russia’s supply lines across Ukraine are one of the EU’s greatest strategic weaknesses and eastern Europeans have bitter memories of supply cuts in 2006 and 2009. Fears are growing of another gas crisis this winter after Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly, cut deliveries to Ukraine last month in a dispute over prices. Although Russian gas continues to flow through Ukraine to Europe, analysts have warned that if the dispute is not resolved by the autumn there will not be time to refill gas stores ahead of winter.Eastern European nations are working on ambitious plans to develop terminals to import liquefied natural gas but these will not be ready by the winter.
….Still, Europe is in a stronger position now than in 2009. Five years ago, 80 per cent of Russian gas was piped across Ukraine, whereas now less than 50 per cent takes that route, thanks to the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic sea.
Central European nations have also greatly improved their storage facilities and emergency planning since 2009. Crucially, they have built more cross-border interconnector pipelines running between each other, north-to-south, to break dependence on Russian pipelines running from east-to-west.”