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“Russian energy is not irreplaceable”

Ukrainian Deputy Energy Minister Yaroslav Demchenkov on June 7, 2021 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Arrived in Europe from Ukraine, a week ago, a delegation from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy participated in the high-level meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 March. During this stay, the Ukrainian deputy energy minister, Yaroslav Demchenkov, once again urged the Europeans to put an end to their imports of Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Energy is more than ever one of the major issues in this conflict…

The war caused a real shock wave. During our meetings, we have seen that everyone understands that the world will never be the same again. Russia is waging this war by trying to make people believe that Russian energy is irreplaceable. However, this is not the case: Europe can and must act to make Russian energy insignificant. This is fundamental because every hour that passes costs Ukraine a fortune, not only because of the destroyed infrastructure, but above all because people are killed.

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What do you ask of Europeans? An embargo on Russian fossils, like President Volodymyr Zelensky?

The first thing to do is stop using Russian energy as soon as possible. To do this, we are proposing a set of measures that would make it possible to put pressure on Moscow without damaging the European economy too much, looking at things sector by sector. First, everything that can be delivered by sea can be quickly replaced: we are talking about coal, fuel oil, oil transported by ship and liquefied natural gas [GNL]. The Russian group Novatek supplies France, Spain and the United Kingdom with LNG, but there are many LNG terminals and alternative suppliers. For these fuels, we are asking for an immediate embargo, which will give the industry time to adapt between now and next winter.

Isn’t it more complicated for gas and oil?

Our proposal for oil transported by pipeline is to establish an embargo, but in the medium term: we are saying today that, in nine months, we will no longer buy Russian oil. Alternative suppliers will also have time to increase their production. If they understand that there is a stake, they will fight for this European market which is the most lucrative in the world and Europe will have the opportunity to choose between the producers.

Finally, for gas, in the short term we advise Europe to fill the storage sites located in Austria, Germany and Ukraine. But, in the longer term, one of the solutions is to circulate, in the German part of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline [qui relie la Russie à l’Allemagne via la mer Baltique], liquefied natural gas that would come from other suppliers and other countries, which could make it possible to dispense with the Russian gas passing through this gas pipeline. Thus, there is no need to build new infrastructure to diversify supplies. The Germans are studying this option. They haven’t done it before because the Russians wanted them to believe it was impossible, but we think it could be done in two years.

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