European country warns of ‘general energy collapse’
Interruptions to Russian gas supplies and a mass switch to electricity would lead to “a general energy collapse” in Europe, the prime minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic, claimed on Monday.
Speaking to parliament, Abrazovic recalled recent remarks by German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck who, amid looming energy difficulties over the winter period, advised his compatriots to spend less time in the shower and to prepare warm clothes.
In Abrazovic’s opinion, if someone from his government came up with such advice, he would be ridiculed. Montenegrin ministers are now focused on preventing a crisis like this, he said, but not everything depends on them.
“If it comes true that in the fall, or with the onset of cold days, gas is not delivered from Russia to Western Europe at a level that satisfies its economy, and if it switches to electricity, there will be a general energy collapse,” he warned.
He explained that there was an even greater danger than increasing energy prices: In his opinion, there might be a situation in which “even with money, you will not be able to get electricity.”
The country's government, Abrazovic warned, is now focused on preventing the worst scenarios but also on preparing for them. He said that one of the ways to do this was rebalancing the budget. The prime minister also stressed that while Montenegro, unlike some other European countries, was not dependent on natural gas, it must still be prepared and should “look at how to get the most out of the tourism industry.”
“However, both Covid and the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine should teach us the following: We have to increase food production and to become a country that is not energy dependent,” he said.
In order to become more independent, the focus should also be on building new energy facilities, according to Abrazovic.
The prime minister expressed certainty that his government was addressing the issues correctly and that there was no reason to panic.
Earlier this month, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol warned the EU to be prepared for the possibility of a complete shutdown of Russian gas exports this winter, calling on the bloc's members to widen the span of measures aimed at preparing for this scenario, according to the Financial Times.
Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands announced their plans to step up the use of coal for power generation, while Sweden and Denmark said they would also launch emergency measures to curb the use of natural gas.
The European gas market is already experiencing a severe shortage of imported energy supplies. Shipments by Russia’s Gazprom through the Nord Stream pipeline have fallen significantly this month because of parts shortages due to sanctions.
The reduced deliveries come at a time when Europe is racing to stock up for winter, with gas storages on the continent currently at 55%, according to recent data.
The EU plans to phase out Russian gas by 2030 as part of its response to Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, which was launched in late February. However, several countries, including Germany, have repeatedly warned their economies would suffer if the flow were to stop immediately.