even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Putin: Germany unlikely to accept gas via remaining Nord Stream 2 pipeline

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Oct 14 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Germany was unlikely to accept Russian gas from the one remaining undamaged line of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, two days after Berlin rejected his initial offer.

“A decision has not been made and it’s unlikely to be made, but that’s no longer our business, it’s the business of our partners,” he said.

The Nord Stream pipelines, intended to carry gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, suffered unexplained ruptures in three of their four lines, incidents that European countries have called sabotage.

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Putin said on Wednesday that Russian gas could still be supplied to Europe through the one remaining intact line of the uncommissioned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but a German government spokesman ruled this out.

Germany froze the approval process for the recently laid Nord Stream 2 as Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine, and it was never opened.

“They have to decide what is more important for them: fulfilling some kind of alliance commitment, as they see it, or safeguarding their national interests,” Putin said.

The impact of efforts to use less Russian energy, plus steep cuts in supplies from Russia, have been felt across the 27-nation European Union, with gas prices almost 90% higher than a year ago and fears of rationing and power cuts over the coming winter.

EU energy ministers on Wednesday agreed on the outlines of a package of proposals to tackle the crisis that will be put to the European Commission next week.

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Nord Stream operators: Authorities won’t allow us to inspect damaged pipelines

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  • This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

MOSCOW, Oct 4 (Reuters) – The operators of two Baltic Sea gas pipelines that linked Russia and Germany until they both sprang major leaks last week said they were unable to inspect the damaged sections because of restrictions imposed by Danish and Swedish authorities.

Europe is investigating what caused three pipelines in the Nord Stream network to burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters that Moscow quickly sought to pin on the West, suggesting the United States stood to gain.

Nord Stream 2 AG, Switzerland-based operator of that gas pipeline, said on Tuesday it will examine the condition of the leaking pipelines once a police investigation of the “crime scene” is completed and a cordon is lifted.

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Later on Tuesday, Nord Stream AG, operator of the older Nord Stream 1 pipeline, said they had been told by Danish authorities that receiving the necessary permits to carry out an inspection could take over 20 working days.

“According to the Swedish authorities, a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea,” Nord Stream said in a press release.

Pressure in the pipeline had stabilised as of Monday, Nord Stream added.

Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 said in emailed comments it was “cooperating with all relevant authorities”.

“Copenhagen police are handling the investigation of the crime scene at the Nord Stream 2 leak in the Danish EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” it said. “The Swedish coast guard has cordoned off the area around the leak in the Swedish EEZ.”

Kremlin-controlled Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has said flows could resume at the last remaining intact pipeline in the Nord Stream 2 network, a suggestion likely to be rebuffed given Europe blocked Nord Stream 2 days before Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

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Europe Points to Sabotage in Pipeline Leaks and Pledges ‘United Response’

Credit…Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters

At least 200,000 Russians have left the country in the week since President Vladimir V. Putin announced a partial military mobilization after a series of setbacks in the country’s war with Ukraine, according to figures provided by Russia’s neighbors.

The mobilization could pull as many as 300,000 civilians into military service, from what Russian officials have said is a pool of some 25 million draft-eligible adults on their rolls, suggesting that the departures, though unusual, may not prevent the Kremlin from achieving its conscription goals.

Video posted on social media platforms showed long lines of cars approaching border checkpoints in countries including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Finland. The rapid outflow, as well as a series of protests in different parts of the country, are a stark display of discontent with Mr. Putin’s policy.

“I left because of my disagreement with the current government in Russia,” said Alexander Oleinikov, 29, a bus driver from Moscow who had crossed overland into northeastern Georgia. He said that many people he knew were against the war, which he called a “tragedy” caused by “one crazy dictator.”

The size of the exodus is difficult to determine, however, given that Russia has borders with 14 countries, stretching from China and North Korea to the Baltic States, and not all governments release regular data about migration.

The government of Kazakhstan said on Tuesday that 98,000 Russians had entered the country in the last week and Georgia’s interior minister said more than 53,000 people had crossed into the country from Russia since Sept. 21, when the mobilization was announced. The daily number climbed over those days to around 10,000 from a normal level of about 5,000 to 6,000.

The European Union’s border agency, Frontex, said in a statement that nearly 66,000 Russian citizens entered the bloc in the week to Sunday, up 30 percent from the previous week.

Those numbers give some additional credence to the scale of exodus described in a report over the weekend by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which cited what it said was a security service estimate, provided by an unnamed source, of 261,000 men having left the country by Sunday.

There is also evidence that Russia may be moving to stem the flow of departures. On Wednesday, Russia’s North Ossetia republic imposed restrictions on cars arriving from other parts of the country. The republic’s governor, Sergei Menyaylo, said the ban was being introduced after 20,000 people crossed the border in two days.

Some European countries have already imposed border restrictions with Russia, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which have closed their doors to most Russian citizens. Finland is considering similar measures.

On Wednesday, the United States Embassy in Moscow, which had previously urged its citizens to leave Russia, restated the position in the light of the mobilization drive, warning that those with dual Russian and American nationality could be at risk of being drafted.

Russia is also attempting to clamp down on citizens trying to leave the country. On Tuesday, the state news media reported that men waiting to flee at the Georgia border were being served call-up papers.

Some analysts, however, cautioned that the practical impact of the departures was likely to be limited.

“Many young Russian men are departing in a mass exodus from Russia,” said Mick Ryan, an Australian military expert who has commented extensively on the war in Ukraine. “But millions of others will not have the means to leave Russia to escape their draft notices.”

Ksenia Ivanova contributed reporting.

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Nord Stream Gas Leaks Raise Suspicions of Sabotage

Credit…Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Suspicious leaks in two gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea caused a sudden drop in pressure on Monday, raising concerns about possible sabotage and prompting the authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden to investigate.

Sweden’s national seismic network said it detected two large undersea explosions on Monday near the locations of the leaks. Neither of the pipelines — Nord Stream 1 and 2 — had been active, but they were filled with gas when there was a sharp drop in pressure, first registered on Monday.

Footage released by the Danish Defense Command showed a swirling mass of methane bubbling up onto the surface of the Baltic Sea. Officials in Denmark raised its security alerts at electricity and gas facilities around the country.

Speculation immediately fell on Russia, which denied responsibility. The leaks underscored the vulnerability of Europe’s energy infrastructure, even as the continent tries to wean itself off supplies from the Russia as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, blamed Russia for the leaks, saying they were an attempt to further destabilize Europe’s energy security. He spoke at the launch of a new undersea pipeline that connects Poland to Norway through Denmark.

“We do not know the details of what happened yet, but we can clearly see that it is an act of sabotage,” Mr. Morawiecki said. “An act that probably marks the next stage in the escalation of this situation in Ukraine.”

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said that sabotage could not be ruled out. “It is too early to conclude yet, but it is an extraordinary situation,” she said during a visit to Poland to inaugurate the pipeline from Norway.

“There is talk of three leaks, and therefore it is difficult to imagine that it could be accidental,” she said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said on Twitter that the leaks were “a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards E.U.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said of the leaks that “no possibility can be ruled out,” but the Russian state media sought to blame the United States and Ukraine. The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported that Washington “is an active opponent of Russian gas supplies to Europe,” and said that Ukraine opposed Nord Stream 2 because it “was afraid of losing revenues from the transit of Russian gas.”

Credit…Planet Labs

It was not immediately clear who would benefit from ruptures in the pipelines, which were not in operation. The leaks were found at different points on two branches of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and one branch of Nord Stream 2, Danish and Swedish officials said. They warned ships to avoid the affected areas.

The pipelines have been a focal point of the broader confrontation between Russia and Europe. After the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia to penalize it for invading Ukraine in February, Russia began withholding the natural gas that for decades it had sent to Europe, threatening the continent’s energy supply as winter looms.

The governments in Denmark and Germany both said the leaks would not affect natural gas supplies in their countries. Gazprom had already halted nearly all deliveries of natural gas to Europe, through Nord Stream 1 as well as all but one of several overland pipelines, and European countries have turned to other suppliers, including Norway, to meet their energy needs.

But the incident made clear how vulnerable energy infrastructure could be. Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority warned on Monday that unidentified drones had been sighted recently near its offshore oil and gas facilities, raising concerns of possible explosions, helicopter collisions or of “deliberate attacks.” It called for “increased vigilance by all operators and vessel owners,” citing the heightened security concerns following recent threats by Russia linked to its war in Ukraine.

Russia’s Gazprom halted deliveries through Nord Stream 1 indefinitely earlier this month, as part of a continuing dispute with Germany over gas deliveries. The pipeline is made up of about 100,000 concrete-coated steel pipes designed to withstand the change in pressure the gas undergoes on the 760-mile journey from Russia to Germany. They lie on the floor of the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream 2 was never put into operation after Germany canceled its certification on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Senators and members of Congress had lobbied for years to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2. After Germany halted certification, President Biden imposed sanctions on the Russian-owned operator of the pipeline.

Monika Pronczuk, Oleg Matsnev and Torben Brooks contributed reporting.

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An Israel-Lebanon Border Deal Could Increase Natural Gas Supplies

Israel and Lebanon have been at war since 1948, but the countries are close to an agreement that could increase production of natural gas, helping energy-starved Europe.

Officials from the two countries have said they are close to resolving long-running disputes over their maritime borders, which would allow energy companies to extract more fossil fuels from offshore fields in the Mediterranean Sea.

The increased production won’t make up for the gas that Europe is no longer getting from Russia. But energy experts say an Israel-Lebanon agreement should give a vital push to efforts to produce more gas in that part of the world. Over the last four years, energy production in the eastern Mediterranean has been growing as Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Cyprus have worked together to take advantage of oil and gas buried under the sea.

“This is a very important step for the region to come into its own,” said Charif Souki, the Lebanese-American executive chairman of Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas company based in Houston. “Players are finally realizing that it’s better to cooperate than to continuously fight.”

The Israel-Lebanon negotiations will most directly affect the Karish field, which is set to produce gas for Israel’s domestic use. That fuel is expected to displace gas produced from other fields, which can then be exported. The new field is also expected to produce a small amount of oil.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil and gas company, and several smaller businesses are already producing gas from two larger fields off Israel’s coast. That fuel has increasingly replaced coal in the country’s power plants and factories. Israel now has so much gas that it has become a net exporter of energy, sending fuel to neighbors like Jordan and Egypt. Some of that gas has also found its way to Europe and other parts of the world from L.N.G. export terminals in Egypt.

The U.S. government, across several administrations, has encouraged the growth of the gas trade in the region by helping to negotiate deals between countries that have long had tense relations. The Ukraine crisis has accelerated efforts to explore and produce natural gas because of the soaring cost of the fuel in Europe, where countries are desperate to end their dependence on Russian gas.

Chevron and its Israeli partners are discussing the possibility of building a floating liquefied natural gas platform in the Leviathan gas field, Israel’s largest. The companies are expected to make a decision on the project in a few months.

But getting the gas out of the region will not be easy. Floating export terminals are vulnerable to terrorist attack. And, even if they could be adequately secured, the terminals will not be able to process as much gas as the larger coastal facilities used in major gas producers like the United States, Qatar and Australia. Building terminals on land can take several years, if not often longer, because of opposition from environmental and other groups.

“Energy infrastructure offshore is very volatile and vulnerable,” said Gal Luft, a former Israeli military officer who is the co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington. “You have to manage risk.”

Theoretically, transporting gas by pipelines would be easier than liquefying natural gas for export before converting it back into gas at its destination. But building long-distance pipelines is expensive and difficult. A long-running conflict between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, for example, has made constructing a pipeline from Israel to southern Europe incredibly challenging, if not impossible.

Even an Israel-Lebanon border agreement faces risks. Hezbollah has threatened to attack the Karish field, and it sent unarmed drones over it in July; Israeli officials said they had shot down the ‌aircraft.

Still, Israeli and Lebanese officials have said in recent days that they are pressing on with the negotiations, with officials from the Biden administration acting as a go-between, and are close to a deal. The talks gathered momentum during the United Nations General Assembly last week.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati of Lebanon said on Thursday at the United Nations that he was confident about reaching an agreement with Israel. “Lebanon is well aware of the importance of the promising energy market in the eastern Mediterranean for the prosperity of all countries in the region,” he said, “but also to meet the needs of importing nations.”

U.S. and other Western oil companies have long shied away from Israel, in part because they do not want to alienate Arab countries. But, as relations between Israel and countries like Egypt, Jordan and, more recently, the United Arab Emirates have improved more companies have expressed interest in the eastern Mediterranean.

An agreement between Israel and Lebanon could accelerate that trend.

“I think it will appease many minds,” said Leslie Palti-Guzman, chief executive of Gas Vista, a consulting firm. “Companies that have been reluctant to invest could be more incentivized to develop additional projects.”

Gas fields in the Mediterranean are one of several new suppliers that Europe will need as it seeks a long-term replacement for Russian gas. Other suppliers include energy companies operating in the United States, Qatar, Africa, the Caspian Sea and the North Sea.

“There is no silver bullet,” said Paddy Blewer, spokesman for Energean, a London-based exploration company that hopes to begin producing gas in the Karish field. “The East Mediterranean is one of a series of marginal gains that Europe has to look at.”

Energean plans to begin production in the next few weeks, and has said it expects to produce up to 8 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2025. If it is successful, the company could significantly add to Israel’s output. The country will produce roughly 22 billion cubic meters this year. Once an importer of almost all of its energy, Israel increased gas production by 22 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2021. It exported roughly 40 percent of its gas, earning the government royalties of $250 million.

The agreement between Israel and Lebanon will also open the way to drilling in Lebanese waters by a consortium led by Eni of Italy and TotalEnergies of France. Lebanese officials view natural gas as a critical financial tool in its attempts to revive the country’s depressed economy. The government has wanted to drill offshore since at least 2014, but disputes with Israel over the border have delayed exploration.

“It’s not for sure Lebanon will find gas,” said Chakib Khelil, a former president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. “But, if they do, Lebanon will get a big boost.”

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Why Are So Few Women In Animation?

Women in film are still struggling to find jobs in the film industry, specifically in animation.

Animated films like Domee Shi’s “Turning Red” or Nora Twomey’s Oscar-nominated “The Breadwinner” are putting women and young girls in the spotlight, but the animation industry as a whole is still struggling to hire and promote women behind the scenes.  

Nicole Hendrix is the co-founder and executive director of the BRIC Foundation. 

“These pathways into the industry are not equitable,” said Hendrix.  

“It’s like, there’s all this great talent out there that you’re not utilizing,” said Margaret Dean, the president of Women in Animation.  Of the top animated films released from 2007 to 2018, less than 3% were directed by women and industry leaders say it’s because of inequality in the talent pipelines. 

“It’s just very much exclusion by familiarity within the industry. It’s a ‘you have to know someone’ in order to get hired or to get into a really good program that you’ll get hired from. Not to mention money, right? Not everybody can afford to be an unpaid intern,” said Hendrix. 

“It was just the phrases of ‘it was an old boys club,’ and then people always hired people that they knew that they were friends with,” said Dean. 

A 2019 report from the University of Southern California found that women directors were more likely to be seen as a “risk” to studios, and less likely to be promoted to higher leadership roles.  

Women overall hold around 30% of the creative jobs in animation. And as more people in Hollywood are becoming more aware of the gender-gap in entertainment, organizations like the BRIC foundation and Women in Animation are pushing for parity. 

“There’s definitely waves that people ride and we just need to all come together to make sure that we hold people accountable,” said Alison Mann, the co-founder of the BRIC Foundation. 

“Equally important work that we realized we needed to do was to start working with the women themselves, and to really launch talent development programs,” said Dean.  

Women in animation, or “WIA,” has challenged the industry to achieve 50/50 parity by 2025. And its educational programs include mentorship opportunities for women, transgender and non-binary people. 

“They became these little networks, almost like a seed of a little network,” said Dean. 

The BRIC Foundation is working to create more opportunities for women as well through its own industry-wide summits, workshops and the development of a new apprenticeship program.  

“Out of our third-year summit, the plan for an apprenticeship program came and it was an industry advisory across animation, visual effects in gaming, 60 major companies represented. And we really mapped out what are the entry level positions that people are wanting to hire for, what knowledge, software, skills, portfolio is needed to achieve those roles?” said Hendrix. 

The program hopes to provide training opportunities for students in public high schools and community colleges and ultimately lessen the barriers to enter the animation industry.  

“We have to remember to kind of rise above and continue pushing forward and figuring out new strategic ways to create opportunities for people that might not and, and I think everybody has a seat at the table to make change,” said Mann. 

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. Northeast faces potential energy shortages as rails start to shut

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Unused oil tank cars are pictured on Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad tracks outside Hinsdale, New York August 24, 2015. Picture taken August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario/File Photo

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NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Some trains carrying fuel components to the U.S. Northeast have been halted in preparation for a possible railroad shutdown in the coming days, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

The northernmost East Coast states rely on railroad shipments to supplement pipeline deliveries from the U.S. Gulf. The region is among the largest fuel consumers in the nation, where U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that in July inventories of heating oil and diesel reached the lowest levels in at least three decades.

Major railroads, including Union Pacific (UNP.N) and Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKa.N) BNSF, must reach a tentative deal with three unions representing 60,000 workers before 12:01 a.m. on Friday to avert a shutdown.

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Unit trains to the Northeast that carry commodities including ethanol and crude oil have already stopped, two sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

All railroads are preparing to wind down operations in the next day, said a spokesperson at Norfolk Southern (NSC.N) who declined to comment further. Passenger rail operator Amtrak has already canceled all long-distance routes nationwide as their trains run largely on freight lines outside of the U.S. Northeast. read more

Nationwide, stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are at their lowest levels seasonally since 2000, according to EIA data.

The situation is more dire in New England and the Central Atlantic states. In that region, stretching from Maine to Maryland, stocks are at 16.6 million barrels, lowest seasonally since the EIA started keeping the data in 1990.

Fuel distributors generally have inventories to last several days and those markets can also receive imports, but prices would be expected to rise in anticipation of a possible shortage.

Some shippers, anticipating a shutdown, have already stopped transporting hazardous materials around the United States, including fuel blending components.

“I already have companies that have been limiting their production knowing this was coming and now they’ll have to face the music and shut down,” said Tom Williamson, a railcar broker and owner of Transportation Consultants, which manages over 2,000 railcars.

He said he has been busy the past few days communicating with clients who are starting to shut down production of hazardous materials.

The upper Northeast relies on rail for shipments of crude oil, natural gas and fuel products more than other regions because of a lack of pipelines. New England receives most of the natural gas it uses to heat homes and light stoves by rail, according to consultancy RBN Energy, making it vulnerable to a stoppage.

“Over the past 20 years, regional imbalances between where products are produced and where they are demanded has increased,” said Debnil Chowdhury, vice president, Americas head of refining and marketing, S&P Global Commodity Insights. “This has increased the need to transfer products from the Gulf Coast to the (Northeast).”

Pipelines carrying fuel and natural gas from Texas and other oil and gas-producing states of the U.S. South are already full, Chowdhury said, leaving little room to increase flows on the lines if a shutdown happens.

“All sorts of stuff is going to grind to a halt,” said one executive familiar with the region’s rail operations, who asked not to be named. “It’s going to be brutal.”

In July, governors of New England states wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm warning her that the region faced surging winter heating bills due to lack of natural gas pipeline connectivity.

They also asked the Biden Administration to suspend the Jones Act, which requires goods moved between U.S. ports to be carried by ships built domestically and staffed by U.S. crew, for the delivery of LNG for at least a portion of the upcoming winter.

In 2021, the six-state New England region got most of its power, or 46%, from natural gas, according to ISO New England, the region’s power grid operator. On the coldest winter days, the grid relies on oil as well to fuel a much bigger percentage of power generation.

Nationwide, shippers for oil and chemical companies are making contingency plans.

“We are starting to see impacts already,” said Chris Ball, chief executive officer of Quantix, a Houston-based company that provides trucks and trailers to transport chemicals for companies including Exxon Mobil, Dow and LyondellBasell.

“They (railroads) have already restricted what they’re taking and so we’re getting a fair amount of trucking orders across our whole network,” Ball said.

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Reporting by Laila Kearney, Laura Sanicola and Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Laura Sanicola

Thomson Reuters

Reports on oil and energy, including refineries, markets and renewable fuels. Previously worked at Euromoney Institutional Investor and CNN.

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Putin Says He Will Meet With Xi and Insists Russia ‘Has Not Lost Anything’

Since fighting broke out in Ukraine nearly seven months ago, Russia and Europe have been waging an economic war over energy, one that could have dire consequences for millions of households and businesses across the continent.

Last year, nearly 40 percent of the natural gas used to heat homes and power businesses throughout the European Union came from Russia, one of the continent’s largest and most important trading partners for energy.

Now barely half that amount enters Europe, government statistics show, stoking fears of shortages this winter.

As part of a wide-ranging effort to cripple Russia’s economy, which is largely propelled by the sale of fossil fuels, the European Union has imposed huge sanctions and has vowed to eventually stop buying Russian gas.

But with Europe still dependent on Russia in the meantime, Russia has retaliated by severely restricting the flow of energy to Europe, forcing governments to try to find alternatives.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “is using energy as a weapon by cutting supply and manipulating our energy markets,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, wrote on Twitter.

This battle has proved costly for both sides.

Alternative buyers of Russia’s oil and gas, including China and India, are taking advantage of the situation and pushing for steep discounts. That is limiting the revenue that Moscow needs to power its economy, as well as to build pipelines and ports to supply energy to Asia more regularly.

European governments are paying high prices to stock up on the fuel, asking citizens and companies to save energy and unveiling sweeping emergency packages to cap energy bills and bail out struggling businesses.

Even countries that don’t import Russian gas are suffering, because electricity prices are closely linked to gas. The benchmark wholesale price of natural gas in Europe, which has been incredibly volatile since the war in Ukraine began, is roughly four times what it was a year ago.

The average European household is facing a monthly energy bill of 500 euros ($494) next year, triple the amount in 2021, according to estimates by analysts at Goldman Sachs. Applied to all energy users, that implies a €2 trillion increase in spending on heat and electricity.

The squeeze is particularly acute in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which relies on Russia as its biggest supplier of gas. The bulk of it flows through Nord Stream 1, a 760-mile passageway that connects the two countries via the Baltic Sea.

Since the war, the Russian-controlled operator of the pipeline, Gazprom, has twice reduced the amount of gas it sends to Germany and twice shut the pipeline down for maintenance. After the most recent shutdown last week, Gazprom postponed a planned restart, citing faulty equipment, and provided no timeline for reopening, with officials in the Kremlin blaming sanctions for delaying repairs.

Critics suggested that last week’s move was a cynical response by Russia after finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries said they had agreed to impose a price cap mechanism on Russian oil in a bid to choke off some of the revenue Moscow still generates from Europe.

The indefinite shutdown nonetheless raised fears that it could become permanent. A complete cutoff from Russian gas would push Europeans’ energy bills even higher and hit the region’s economy even harder, with experts projecting a potentially deep recession in the most exposed countries. A shutdown would subtract nearly 3 percent from Germany’s economy next year, economists at the International Monetary Fund have estimated.

“In our view, the market continues to underestimate the depth, the breadth and the structural repercussions of the crisis,” the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. “We believe these will be even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.”

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Russia Says the Gas Pipeline to Germany Will Remain Closed

Gazprom said on Friday that it would postpone restarting the flow of natural gas through a closely watched pipeline that connects Russia and Germany, an unexpected delay that appeared to be part of a larger struggle between Moscow and the West over energy and the war in Ukraine.

The Russian-owned energy giant had been expected to resume the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Saturday after three days of maintenance. But hours before the pipeline was set to reopen, Gazprom said that problems had been found during inspections, and that the pipeline would be closed until they were eliminated. It did not give a timeline for restarting.

The announcement had the hallmarks of a tit-for-tat move. Earlier on Friday, finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries said that they had agreed to impose a price cap mechanism on Russian oil in a bid to choke off some of the energy revenue Moscow is still collecting from Europe.

Eric Mamer, a spokesman for the European Commission, said that the “fallacious pretenses” for the latest delay were “proof of Russia’s cynicism.”

Russia has, during Mr. Putin’s long tenure, used energy for geopolitical ends, often with the goal of gaining leverage over European policies toward Ukraine. Mr. Putin has taken a keen interest in the oil and natural gas industries, often negotiating deals personally with energy giants in ways that barely hide the political subtext. The Nord Stream pipelines, which are designed to bypass Ukraine by sending gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, have been central to the Kremlin’s political use of energy.

In its statement Friday, Gazprom said it found oil leaks around a turbine used to pressurize the pipeline, forcing it to call off the restart. The German company Siemens Energy, the maker of the turbine, cast doubt on that account. “As the manufacturer of the turbines, we can only state that such a finding is not a technical reason for stopping operation,” the company said late Friday. Siemens also said there were additional turbines available that could be used to keep the pipeline operating.

OPEC Plus group of oil producing countries, headed by Saudi Arabia and Russia, have been hinting that they might pivot away from their gradual post-pandemic production increases and cut output to bolster falling prices. The group is expected to meet on Monday to set oil production levels.

“Putin will endeavor to demonstrate that he has not played his last card and that there are many open windows in his energy war with the West,” Helima Croft, head of commodities at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

The latest action by Gazprom will raise fears of a permanent shutdown of the pipeline, which had been the key conduit for gas to Germany, a country heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. Like other European Union nations, Germany has been rushing to fill storage facilities before winter as insurance against Russian cutoffs.

since late July. Well after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the pipeline was typically transporting around five times that level.

Britain’s energy regulator said that fuel bills for 24 million households would rise by 80 percent beginning in October, putting pressure on the next prime minister, expected to be Liz Truss, to turn immediate attention to coming up with a massive aid package to head off a catastrophic winter.

Britain’s government is not the only one working to mitigate the energy crisis in Europe. Facing dire circumstances, lawmakers and regulators across the continent are increasingly intervening in the energy markets to protect consumers.

At the same time, the European natural gas market has changed substantially over the last year as Russia crimped supplies and Europe turned to other sources. Flows from Russia to Europe have declined sharply.

imports of liquefied natural gas shipped by sea from the United States and elsewhere, and increased pipeline flows from producers including Norway and Azerbaijan. The problem is that the shifts have forced gas prices higher, as Europe vies with Asia for limited supplies of liquefied gas.

Until Friday’s announcement there was increasing optimism about the prospect for navigating the winter with less Russian gas, leading to the fall in natural gas prices in recent days. Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm, has projected that Russian pipeline gas imports will steadily decline from supplying more than a third of European demand in recent years to around 9 percent in 2023.

Even the importance of Nord Stream has diminished. Analysts say that Gazprom has so constrained Nord Stream volumes this summer that the pipeline’s performance is no longer crucial to the overall fundamentals of the market. But news about the conduit still has a psychological impact, and some analysts expect gas prices to jump when markets open on Monday.

“A complete shutdown will obviously have implications on market sentiment given how tight the market is,” said Massimo Di Odoardo, vice president for global gas at Wood Mackenzie. Such an event, he added, would “increase the risk of further cuts via other pipelines bringing Russian gas to the E.U. via Ukraine and Turkey.”

Andrew E. Kramer contributed.

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