The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) criticized Russia for exacerbating Europe's natural gas crisis, saying that the country's state-owned gas supplier, Gazprom, is to blame for high prices and low storage levels.
Speaking to the reporters in Paris on Wednesday, Fatih Birol blamed Russia for the unprecedented low gas storage levels in Europe.
According to the IEA chief, Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom has supplied around 25% less gas to Europe in recent months than usual.
Russia’s decision to decrease natural gas exports to European markets came at a time when the latter was experiencing heightened energy demand amid the post-pandemic economic recovery.
'We believe there are strong elements of tightness in the European gas market due to Russia’s behaviour,' Birol said. 'I would note that today’s low Russian gas flows to Europe coincide with heightened geopolitical tensions over Ukraine.'
Existing pipelines could allow Russia to deliver up to a third more gas, which would equate to about 10% of daily consumption in Europe, Birol said.
The energy crisis that unfolded in 2021 led to natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) prices surging to record highs.
Natural gas prices in Europe increased by over 900% since January 2021 due to factors including higher demand as economies re-open, rising competition for gas between Europe and Asia, a hotter summer and colder winter, as well as a coal crunch in China which led to a spike in global demand for gas.
By Sibel Morrow