EU awaits difficult time next year without Russian gas: Diplomat
European Commission Vice-President says imposing a price cap on Russian gas will not automatically lead to a decrease in prices for consumers.
European Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, said on Friday the European Union will have a harder time going through the next year if the bloc completely stops importing Russian gas, whereas a gas price cap will not reduce costs for households.
"We need to take into account the fact that next year will be even tougher, as there will be no Russian gas. Imposing a price cap [on gas] will not automatically lead to decrease in prices for consumers. Currently, demand exceeds supply, which leads to rise in prices. That is why we need to curb our consumption," Timmermans told the French newspaper Le Monde, adding that he was now against the idea of introducing a price cap on Russian gas.
On Tuesday, the European Commission proposed a cap price that would kick in if the front-month price on the Dutch gas exchange Title Transfer Facility (TTF) exceeds 275 euros ($286) for two weeks and if TTF prices are 58 euros higher than the liquefied natural gas global reference price for 10 consecutive trading days.
On Thursday, Italian Energy Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin revealed before the Energy Council in Brussels that at least 15 EU states have rejected the European Commission's price cap plan on Russian gas.
The EU energy ministers failed on Thursday to reach an agreement on a gas price ceiling and are expected to further discuss the Commission's proposal at their next meeting scheduled to take place on December 13, according to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
German Economy Ministry State Secretary Sven Giegold said on Thursday the proposal set by the EU Commission to impose a higher-than-expected price cap on Russian oil made every EU member dissatisfied to a different extent with the plan.
The G7, which includes the US, the EU, and Australia, is seeking to implement the price cap on sea-borne exports of Russian oil on December 5, in an attempt by the West to reduce Russia's revenue from its oil exports, as part of anti-Russia sanctions amid the war in Ukraine.
Reuters reported that "Poland, Lithuania and Estonia believe the $65-$70 per barrel would leave Russia with too high a profit, since production costs are around $20 per barrel."
On the other hand, "Cyprus, Greece and Malta - countries with big shipping industries that stand to lose the most if Russian oil cargos are obstructed - think the cap is too low and demand compensation for the loss of business or more time to adjust," the news agency explained.
"Poland say they can't go above $30 per barrel. Cyprus wants compensation. Greece wants more time. It is not going to happen tonight," one EU diplomat pointed out.
According to Reuters, "The idea of the price cap is to prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargos of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for no more than the price set by the G7 and its allies."
It is noteworthy that Russian Urals crude oil already trades within the discussed range at around $68 per barrel.
The decision can only be taken if the EU unanimously votes in favor, and the G7 will be voting in parallel to the 27-nation bloc. It still may not be as effective, as the World Bank reported last month that the proposed G7 Russian oil price cap would need the participation of emerging markets and developing economies to achieve its objectives.
As a result, companies would be prohibited from providing shipping and insurance, brokering, and financial assistance, which facilitates the transportation of Russian oil unless it sells below the agreed threshold.