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The European Union's (EU) recently unveiled Energy Master Plan talks about energy in the year 2030, but what really worries the EU is much more immediate: the coming winter.
The ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine, along with the corresponding crisis between Kiev and Moscow, means that Russian gas supplies could once again be cut off come September.
In 2009, the last time Russia said nyet to European natural gas deliveries, the continent barely survived one of the coldest winters in years.
This time around, Europe's savior could be the United States – which is good news indeed for select natural gas stocks…
Taming the Russian Bear
Right now, the dispute between Ukraine and Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant, is mostly a war of words. Since demand for natural gas is low in Europe and there's gas in reserve for domestic use in Ukraine in the warmer months, there's no immediate repeat of 2009's gas crisis.
That will change as September approaches. Ukraine must replenish supplies in underground storage for the winter season, and Gazprom has suspended exports to Ukraine over unpaid bills.
For the moment, throughput volume is still moving across Ukraine to Western Europe, where countries are dependent on that route for 15% of the gas consumed daily. However, the last time there was a tiff over what Gazprom was owed by Kiev, three things happened: Russia stopped providing gas, Moscow charged that Ukraine siphoned gas intended for Europe, and deliveries were halted farther west.
For EU citizens, it got very cold. And the situation had a great impact on thinking at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Last week, with another natural gas standoff looming, the EU unveiled its latest Energy Master Plan, which projects energy policies and strategies for the next 15 years.
Because the EU is known for designing, debating, and then dismantling long-term plans on just about everything, this plan could be dismissed as another "been there, seen that," except for one, very important factor.
About the Author
Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy, risk assessment, and emerging market economic development. He serves as an advisor to many U.S. governors and foreign governments. Kent details his latest global travels in his free Oil & Energy Investor e-letter. He makes specific investment recommendations in his newsletter, the Energy Advantage. For more active investors, he issues shorter-term trades in his Energy Inner Circle.