According to the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Europe has made progress in reducing Russia’s reliance on oil and gas and managing the energy crisis caused by the Ukraine conflict. However, the region still faces challenges, including rising demand from China and continued Russian dependence on energy. While Europe has reduced its share of Russian gas to less than 4%, its economy has not yet fully recovered, according to IEA Director General Fatih Birol. While Europe’s emissions are declining and gas storage is at good levels, the region still faces three major energy hurdles this year.
Last year, global energy supplies were abundant due to China’s lockdown and a slowdown in economic activity that reduced oil and gas purchases. However, demand from China is expected to rise in the second half of 2021, and Europe may encounter a harsher winter this year. Negotiations over the US debt ceiling also pose a risk to the global oil market, but Birol is optimistic that a default can be avoided. Birol also warned of Europe’s continued dependence on Russian gas and the uncertainty of supply. Many countries in the region were plunged into an energy crisis last year when imports of Russian gas fell dramatically. Europe may face challenges again next winter if political tensions disrupt gas imports. Despite this, Birol believes that the Russian gas problem is over, and the G7 and European nations will not enter into any agreements with Russia.