For the first time in six years, Europe has turned towards Australia for gas supplies, as a shipment of liquified natural gas (LNG) arrived in the UK. The Attalos gas tanker arrived at the Isle of Grain terminal in Kent, by the mouth of the Thames yesterday, as fears of a gas shortage grip the continent. European leaders are bracing themselves for a nightmarish winter amid concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin will cut off gas supplies completely.
The EU, which imported 40 percent of its gas from Russia last year, is in a nightmarish situation as the Russian leader has increasingly tightened natural gas supplies flowing into the fuel-starved continent.
Even though the UK imports little from Russia directly, a gas-starved EU could push gas prices to astronomical levels and even risk major UK suppliers like Norway redirecting their flows to the bloc.
While some of the natural gas from the Australian shipment will be used in the UK, a majority of it will likely flow into Europe through interconnecting pipelines.
These pipelines in turn could send gas back into the UK during the winter months when demand will be much higher.
Despite having some of the highest LNG import capacity in Europe, Britain has very little gas storage capabilities.
As a result, LNG tankers arriving at British ports are then shipped over to European storage facilities.
Due to the massive distances and shipping costs, Europe and Australia have generally avoided exchanging gas, with the EU importing from Russia and Australia supplying Asia instead.
However, the soaring wholesale gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have sparked the desperate need for new energy sources.
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Even as the rest of Europe prepares for a difficult winter, Downing Street has dismissed concerns over being forced to ration gas or face blackouts.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Independent: “Households, businesses and industry can be confident they will get the electricity and gas that they need over the winter.
“That’s because we have one of the most reliable and diverse energy systems in the world.
“We have access to our own North Sea gas reserves alongside steady imports from reliable partners like Norway.”