- Pivoting natural gas exports to Asia from Europe won’t be easy for Russia, IEA chief Fatih Birol said.
- He predicted it would take at least 10 years as new pipelines and other infrastructure need to be built.
- The Kremlin has “already lost the energy battle” against Europe, which is looking for alternative suppliers, Birol added.
Russia’s plan to replace its natural gas customers in Europe by exporting more to customers in Asia will take years, according to International Energy Agency Executive Director Faith Birol.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said, “You are not selling onions in the market. You have to build pipelines, infrastructure, logistics. This will take at least 10 years.”
Birol added that Russia will have trouble keeping up its energy production as sanctions block Western technology and capital that’s required to repair oilfields and gasfields.
While the Kremlin’s cuts to gas flows to Europe have sparked a full-blown energy crisis for the continent, he said Russia has “already lost the energy battle” against Europe, which is looking for alternative suppliers.
“Russia has lost a good client, and forever. This client paid the money on time and didn’t create any political problems,” Birol said.
But Europe’s energy crisis could threaten unity amongst EU members, he warned, saying he feared “a wild west scenario” in which countries restrict trade or stop cooperating in order to secure their own supplies for the winter.
“The implications will be very bad for energy, very bad for the economy, but extremely bad politically,” Birol told the FT on the sidelines of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh. “If Europe fails this test in energy, it can go beyond energy implications.”