Europe Steps Up Efforts to Replace Russian Gas

Deals were signed Monday with Algeria, Azerbaijan, UAE
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2022 1:59 PM CDT
Europe Steps Up Efforts to Replace Russian Gas
France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, welcomes United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, July 18, 2022.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

European leaders ramped up their push to secure alternative energy supplies Monday as fears escalate of a complete natural gas cutoff by Russia, with the leaders of Italy, France, and the European Union sealing deals with their counterparts in Algeria, Azerbaijan, and the United Arab Emirates. With his government's fate in limbo back home, Italian Premier Mario Draghi visited Algeria’s capital of Algiers, seeking to cement the North African country’s role as a preeminent regional partner, the AP reports. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said a $4 billion deal would be signed Tuesday to supply "a significant quantity of gas."

Also Monday, France and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement on energy cooperation to ensure oil and natural gas supplies from the Gulf country. The same day, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Azerbaijan to clinch a deal with President Ilham Aliyev on increased gas supplies from the former Soviet republic. With the tentative agreement, the EU wants to double the gas imports from Azerbaijan within half a decade. The bloc said the agreement also has guarantees for green energy supplies. "This is good news for our supplies of gas this winter and beyond," von der Leyen said.

Europe has been scrambling to secure alternative energy sources as Russia's war in Ukraine and Moscow's drawdown or cutoff of natural gas flows to a dozen EU countries have triggered soaring energy prices, inflation, and growing expectations of a recession. The 27-nation EU now is bracing for the possibility of a complete Russian cutoff of natural gas that powers industry, generates electricity and heats homes in winter. Leaders have been pushing to fill underground gas storage to try to avert a worsening energy crisis when the cold months arrive. There are fears a major pipeline between Russia and Germany that closed for scheduled maintenance last week will not turn back on in retaliation for sanctions over the war. (More natural gas stories.)

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