Seeking an answer to Gazprom’s decision to shut off gas in Poland and Bulgaria, European energy ministers, urgently called to Brussels on Monday, spoke of a gradual halt to their oil purchases as part of a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.
“We refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles and Russia cut us off, but we are safe‘ assured Polish Minister Anna Moskwa upon her arrival at the meeting.
“We advocate an immediate embargo on oil and gas. The time for oil has come, and then gas will come. Europe must free itself from dependence on Russian fossil fuels‘ she argued.
100% reserves in Poland
Polish gas reserves”will be at 100% capacity this winter“, American LNG (liquefied natural gas) “started arriving via Lithuania and we will deliver gas from Norway via Denmark“, she explained.
Russia has responded to European sanctions against its central bank by requiring it to open a ruble account for gas transactions.
However, contracts signed by European companies are denominated in euros or dollars, and the European Commission believes that the conversion mechanism imposed by Moscow makes it possible to circumvent European sanctions.
Poland and Bulgaria paid for their purchases in the currency stipulated in their contracts with Gazprom and refused to open a second account in rubles. The Russian gas company retaliated by shutting down supplies after payment had not been made.
Open an account in rubles?
Energy ministers need to consider whether opening a second account for conversion into rubles is a sanctions issue, since Gazprom will deliver the gas as soon as the payment is received in euros or dollars, a European source said.
“No company and no country intends to open an account in rubles“Assured Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson upon her arrival for the meeting. But the issue will be discussed during the meeting, a European source assured.
Ministers must also agree on a phasing out of purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in order to dry up European funding for the Kremlin-led war in Ukraine.
However, no decision is expected at the end of their meeting, said French Minister Barbara Pompili, the chair of the meeting.
No company and no country intends to open an account in rubles
“A new package of sanctions is in the pipeline, but that will not be the subject of this Energy Council. He will come in the coming days“, she explained.
“We are working on a new sanctions package‘ confirmed Commissioner Simson.
“A college meeting will take place in Strasbourg on Tuesday (on the fringes of the parliamentary session), at which President Ursula von der Leyen will explain the decisions“, she said. The proposal has been finalized and will be adopted by the Commission on Tuesday, according to a European source.
“The question of sanctions does not fall within the competence of the energy ministers, but within the competence of the Federal Foreign Office‘ recalled Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera.
Supplying the EU with interconnectors for the transmission of electricity and gas
To reduce Europeans’ dependence on fossil fuels”as soon as possible“, the Spanish minister stressed the need to provide the EU with interconnectors for the transport of electricity and gas.
“We have significantly reduced our dependency on Russian oil and created the necessary conditions to be able to support an embargo“, assured his German counterpart Robert Habeck.
In 2021, Russia provided 30% of crude oil and 15% of petroleum products bought by the EU.
“We are not calling for an immediate embargo on all fossil fuel imports because we (we know) couldn’t last a single month“, said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday in Berlin.
The main importers of fossil fuels from Russia (gas, crude oil, petroleum products and coal) are Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France.