Australia has offered to provide Europe with additional liquefied natural gas should Russia decide to cut energy supplies as tensions mount over Ukraine.
As tensions rise between Russia and the West over Ukraine, there are growing fears that Moscow may reduce or stop supplying gas to Europe.
The EU already has gas shortages as easing COVID-19 restrictions placed heavy demand on dwindling stocks. The European Union is dependent on Russia for nearly a third of its gas supply and may need alternative sources as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine increase.
Australia is one of the world’s leading producers of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and is poised to boost its exports to European countries.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement on Thursday that Australia “stands ready to support its friends and allies in the current challenging and complex, geo-strategic environment.”
Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, an Australian research organisation, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that Australia was well prepared to help.
“Australia, the United States and Qatar together supply about 50% of the world’s LNG in the form of natural gas, while what Russia provides, obviously, is via pipeline,” he said. “But there’s some flexibility. So, what’s happening now is they want to see if they can get supplies from elsewhere. The US is trying to coordinate some of that, and some of the Australians Gas has already been used to help meet the problem at the moment, and of course, it could get worse if the situation in Ukraine worsens.
Russia’s gas exports to Europe are mostly through pipelines that pass through Ukraine or other Eastern European countries. Moscow has insisted the Ukrainian system was dilapidated and has accused its neighbor of stealing gas.
Analysts have said Russia could use tensions over Ukraine to boost its plan for a new gas pipeline for Germany that bypasses Poland and Ukraine.
The Australian government has also urged its citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, as Russian troops gather at the border and the threat of invasion grows.
The government has estimated that there are about 1,400 Australians in Ukraine. Foreign Minister Maris Payne said on Tuesday that the advice to leave was “a cautious and prudent move because the security situation is unpredictable.”