Kallas: EU must find alternatives for Russian gas and oil

The protest for Ukraine drew thousands of people to Freedom Square on February 26, 2022.
The protest for Ukraine drew thousands of people to Freedom Square on February 26, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Reducing gas imports from Russia must be agreed upon by all European Union member states and alternatives must be found, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Tuesday. Both Estonia's ministers of economy and finance agree but clear steps have not yet been taken.

Speaking at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tallinn, Kallas said: "When it comes to Russian oil and gas embargo, then, of course, different European countries do not depend on Russian gas and oil in an equal amount, which means that if everyone has to be on board then we also have to find alternatives for those countries.

"It seems to me that Putin is also pushing all these countries towards a green transition but it doesn't happen overnight. Therefore, we will have discussions over this gas and oil embargo but we also understand we have to have alternative energy sources so everybody has to be onboard otherwise some societies of different countries will be hurt more necessary."

Kaja Kallas and Antony Blinken. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Blinken said the U.S. administration has discussed a possible oil embargo with leaders of the UK, France and Germany.

"This is something we are very much actively looking at. As a general proposition, we are working to maintain a steady global supply of energy and looking at various places where we can make sure that that supply continues," he said.

"As this crisis continues, we want to make sure that energy is widely available. At the same time, as the prime minister said, this is not only a significant opportunity but also an imperative to finally move off of, for many countries in Europe, dependence on Russian energy because Russia uses it as a weapon."

ERR spoke to Estonian officials to find out if this is likely and what steps are being taken.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) told ERR on Tuesday the context of a ban on Russian gas imports must be taken into account by the whole of the European Union.

Taavi Aas andUrmas Kruuse Source: Stenbocki maja

"Last year, Russian gas accounted for about 40 percent of the European Union's gas consumption. Estonia's dependence on natural gas is not great, but there are member states in the European Union where the role of natural gas is much greater and it is difficult to find alternatives," he said.

Aas said the supply and demand of alternatives must be discussed amongst the member states.

"With a big effort, we would be possible to supply the Baltic-Finnish region with LNG, but if the whole of the European Union buys LNG at the same time, it will probably lead to an increase in prices and supply difficulties cannot be ruled out." the minister added.

Further sanctions must be agreed upon by the EU as a whole, he said.

Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) said halting the import of Russian gas is a security issue.

Keit Pentus-Rosimannus. Source: ERR

"The faster and more vigorously the European Union's plan to secure gas supplies from other countries, invest in capabilities, including energy efficiency, replace gas with another energy source, the more resolutely it will be able to withstand next winter," she said.

Pentus-Rosimannus said European Union's energy commissioner, and Estonia's representative to the EU, Kadri Simson has worked hard on this theme to prepare the union for a variety of scenarios.

"The Commission will make its proposals public this afternoon, and work is already underway in the member states to move investment forward as quickly as possible," she said.

Pentus-Rosimannus said the amount of gas imported is already likely to be significantly smaller by autumn 2022.

On Tuesday evening, the European Commission said it planned to replace over 70 percent of Russian gas imports this year by ramping up liquefied natural gas purchases, green energy and gas storage, Reuters reported.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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