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Can Serbia get rid of its dependence on Russian gas through the process of diversification?

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Germany claims that the country is no longer dependent on gas imports from Russia, because it has diversified its energy infrastructure, and Italy’s that Algeria has replaced Russia as the country’s number one gas supplier, have inspired reflections on the topic of whether Serbia, through the process of diversification, can get rid of dependence on the import of Russian “blue energy”.

The expert public, on the other hand, believes that supporters of the theory that the European Union is well on its way to freeing itself from dependence on Russian gas, as well as those who point out that there is no alternative at the moment, that it cannot be expected that the replacement of Russian gas will happen already in the next winter season.

When it comes to Serbia’s ability to diversify, it is emphasized that the gas interconnection between Serbia and Bulgaria, which is currently under construction, is significant in this sense, but that the problem is that there is still not enough gas from other sources that could replace Russian.

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Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner emphasized that the country is no longer dependent on energy imports from Russia, as it has completely diversified its energy infrastructure since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

When he said that, Lindner was primarily referring to the opening of two liquid natural gas terminals in Lubmin on the Baltic Sea coast and Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony, which were built in a fairly short period of time.

Germany’s plan is to increase the purchase of gas from Norway and other countries and liquefied natural gas to replace deliveries of “blue energy” from Russia. Berlin proclaimed that the country’s dependence on gas from Russia should be ended by the summer of next year.

A report by five German economic institutes published on April 13 last year warned the public that in the event of a sudden suspension of Russian gas supplies, Germany could plunge into a deep recession and that the country could lose 220 billion euros in the next two years.

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Europe’s largest economy, Germany receives about 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually, or 55 percent of its gas from Russia, the largest volume of any EU member.

Therefore, it is clear that in the current heating season, Berlin could not rely only on gas obtained from other sources, but also has “blue energy” in its warehouses bought from Moscow, and in order to alleviate the consequences of the lack of Russian gas, due to the war in Ukraine, it was proclaimed and a 20 percent reduction in the consumption of that energy source.

When it comes to Italy, which also imports significant quantities of Russian gas, Moscow has been replaced as a supplier by Algeria through the Trans-Mediterranean Agreement. The initial agreement concluded last year foresees additional quantities of “blue energy” from that country in the amount of nine billion cubic meters of gas until 2024, as announced by the Italian energy company Eni.

However, according to the profession, even that increased import does not guarantee Italy, as well as many other European countries, that they will be able to completely give up buying Russian gas in the next heating season.

Energy expert Miodrag Kapor tells Danas that Germany and other European Union countries are well on their way to becoming dependent on gas from Russia in the future.

– In this sense, an important factor is the diversification of supply that is implemented, but also the climatic situation, which allows for the consumption of smaller amounts of gas. Accordingly, it is realistic to expect that in the foreseeable future the countries of the European Union will no longer depend on gas imports from Russia – our interlocutor points out.

When it comes to Serbia’s prospects in the process of diversifying gas supply, the profession emphasizes the importance of the gas interconnection between Serbia and Bulgaria, which is currently under construction, as well as the inclusion of our country in the construction of a liquid natural gas terminal.

– There is talk of the possibility of building a terminal for liquefied natural gas on the Danube, which would be a good solution for Serbia. On the other hand, we should go for reduced gas consumption by increasing energy efficiency as well as finding an alternative to the use of gas in the district heating system – explains Kapor.

The General Secretary of the Serbian Gas Association, Vojislav Vuletić, tells Danas that German Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s claims that the country is no longer dependent on gas imports from Russia do not correspond to the real situation and were made for propaganda reasons.

– After the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was damaged by an explosion, Germany cannot receive gas from Russia that arrived in that country that way. Therefore, Germany is looking for gas in other countries as well. It is good for that country that it has built two terminals for liquefied natural gas, but the construction of that infrastructure will make sense only when the amount of that gas is sufficient. The current situation is that it is not available in sufficient quantities, and neither it nor natural gas from other sources can compensate for the quantities that Germany imports from Russia. She still needs them – says Vuletić.

According to him, with the interconnection that is being built between Serbia and Bulgaria, our country will be able to be supplied with liquid natural gas that would arrive at the terminals in Greece.

– And in that case, it should be said that these are not quantities that could compete with the gas we get from Russia. The gas from Azerbaijan that goes to Bugaska cannot be used for the needs of our consumers because the quantities that Azerbaijan sends are intended for the needs of consumers in Italy and are pre-ordered – concludes our interlocutor.

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