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Europe pushes ahead on alternatives to Russian gas

A photo taken on April 5, 2022 shows the logo of Russian gas giant Gazprom's German subsidiary Gazprom Germania on their headquarters in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: AFP)
European countries on Thursday announced expanded efforts to wean themselves off Russian gas after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.اضافة اعلان

Russia is a major fossil fuel producer and represents around 45 percent of the European Union's gas imports last year but the bloc is under pressure to impose sanctions on oil and gas imports from Moscow.

Finland and Estonia on Thursday said they planned to rent a ship to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) while an executive from Portugal's top port said it was ready to double the capacity of its LNG terminal.

"This will ensure the industrial needs for gas are met if gas imports from Russia stops," Finland Economy Minister Mika Lintila tweeted.

The mobile terminal is known as a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) that allows for converting LNG carried by a tanker into gas and injecting it into the pipeline network.

It is expected to be set up before next winter.

Estonia and two other Baltic countries -- Latvia and Lithuania -- last weekend said they would no longer import Russian natural gas from April 1.

A fixed gas terminal in the Lithuanian port Klaipeda, inaugurated in 2014, already allows the three countries -- long 100 percent dependent on Russian gas pipelines -- to drastically reduce their reliance on Russia.

The FSRU vessel could be moored alternatively off Estonia and Finland.

The neighbouring countries' networks are connected since early 2020 by the Balticconnector gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

Finland imports most of its gas from Russia, even though it makes up only six percent of total energy consumption in the country.

Across Europe, governments are looking at ways to reduce dependance on Russia after hitting Moscow with a wave of punishing sanctions.

The director of Portugal's Sines port on Thursday told AFP that gas capacity could be doubled at its LNG terminal to up to 10 million tonnes.

"The current infrastructure must be doubled to reach those figures, but the investment is rather small and, if a decision were taken today, it could happen in one or two years," Jose Luis Cacho said.

Elsewhere, Greece's government said Thursday it plans to double production of lignite, or brown coal, despite the pollution it causes.

Greek government spokesman Giannis Ekonomou said increased brown coal production would be "necessary" for the next two years.

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