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The leaders of the European Union member states are expected to discuss at their summit at the end of May the idea of jointly buying natural gas to avoid competing with each other for non-Russian supply as the EU seeks to cut its dependence on Moscow, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing sources with knowledge of the plans.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, the EU has been seeking to lower its dependence on Russian natural gas, which met around 40 percent of the bloc’s demand before the war.
The European Commission presented a plan in early March to cut EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of 2022 and completely by 2030. The plan, REPowerEU, will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases and replace gas in heating and power generation. This can reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of this year, the Commission says.
The Commission “is working at full speed to phase out Russian fossil fuels,” under the plan unveiled earlier in March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, said at the end of March.
Europe—unlike the United States—cannot afford to go without Russian gas currently, so the European partners have been reluctant to slap sanctions or impose an embargo on imports of oil and gas from Russia.
In recent weeks, EU members have intensified efforts to procure non-Russian gas supply. Italy, for example, which depends for 40 percent of its gas demand on Russia, signed a deal on Monday with Algeria to receive 40 percent more gas from the African gas exporter via the existing TransMed / Enrico Mattei pipeline in the Mediterranean.
Europe is also looking to boost its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and has been in talks with exporters, including the United States and Qatar, for more LNG supply, if possible.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.