Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of oil and natural gas in the world. Europe is dependent on Russian oil and gas for its energy supplies to a great extent.
Europe has not many options in case of natural gas supply. The US, Russia and Iran are among the top 3 countries which produce natural gas in bulk. Norway is also among top 10 producing countries for natural gas. If Russia suddenly halts the gas supply, Norway will be under tremendous pressure to help the European Union.
Nord stream gas pipeline -
The gas pipeline named North Transgas and North European Gas pipeline - Nord Stream pipeline was started in 2011 between Russian city Vyoborg and German city Greifswald. It is a long underwater pipeline with a length of 1224 km across Baltic sea. This pipeline was inaugurated on 8th November 2011 when the two leaders Angela Markel and Dmitry Medvedev were present in the opening ceremony. This was the time when the relation between Russia and the West was quite healthy and cordial. Russia used to be a part of a famous group which used to be called G8 group which later became G7 after Russia was ousted from it. This relation deteriorated after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. It was a troubling situation fr Germany which was taking oil and gas from Russia despite opposition from different nations of the European Union. Glass making industry and manufacturing units gas to operate without any interruption.
Another pipeline Nord Stream-2 was constructed between another Russian city named Ust-luga and Greifswald of Germany. It has the capacity to hold 55 billion cubic meter per year. It was completed in September 2021 but is not operational yet.
These two pipelines operational together will be giving around 110 Billion cubic meter of gas to Germany from Russia which will be giving billions of dollars to the company Gazprom which is managed by the Russian government. Clearly, these two gas pipelines have the clout to bring the Russian economy back on track. Russia has been facing sanctions since 2014 due to Crimea annexation. This pipeline is supposed to supply gas for the next 50 years in the same manner.
Both of these gas pipelines run across the Exclusive Economic Zone of many countries including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Denmark. EEZ is an area upto 200 nautical miles from the shoreline of a nation. Few months back, Russia cut down the gas supply to some European countries including Austria, Poland, France, Bulgaria etc. This clearly means that Russia has the leverage to starve Europe of energy whenever it wishes. Europe is dependent on Russia for its end to a great extent.
Dependence of Europe on Russia -
Germany is totally dependent on imported oil and gas. It produces very little amount of energy on its own. 98% oil and 92% natural gas required for Germany is imported from different countries and Russia shares a major chunk in it. As per data of 2015, Russia supplies 40% oil and 35% natural gas to Germany.
But from time to time US and the West try to suppress Russia by intimidating it with the fact that they will not purchase from Russia, similarly Russia keeps fluctuating energy supplies to haunt the European Union. The supply and demand side factors work together for both the parties.
Russia needs money to boost its economy and selling oil and natural resources is a big source of revenue for it.
Leak in Nord Stream pipeline-
On 27th September, lots of bubbles in the water of Baltic sea were reported which indicated the leakage in the Nord Stream pipeline. This report was confirmed by Denmark and Sweden. Now the interesting thing to note is that both pipelines are leaking. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) has clearly blamed Russia indirectly by calling it an act of 'reckless act of sabotage'. Russia quickly replied to this comment by saying that Russia will gain nothing by destroying their own assets.
These gas pipelines are built with a 27-41 mm thick plate of steel; the outer segment of these pipelines are made of solid concrete coating. A planned attack by submarine or unmanned vehicles or bomb explosion is needed to destroy or create a leak in this pipeline. This is the reason why it is being called a deliberate move rather than the theory of leak due to some earthquake.
Sudden entry of new option -
On the same day of the leak reports, a new pipeline popped up in the news. Now the gas will be supplied to Poland via the new pipeline across Baltic sea which connects Norway to Denmark to Poland. Actually a pipeline named Europipe-2 is already present between Norway and Germany. So, by connecting them, now the gas from Norway will be easily supplied to Poland. Countries lying in between can also take the advantage. This is an old constructed pipeline which has the capacity to deliver 10 Billion cubic meter per year. The length of this new Baltic pipeline is around 10 km. Poland is the biggest beneficiary from this pipeline as the Yamal pipeline from Russia is currently the largest supplier to Poland. Now, Poland will replace Russia from Norway for its energy requirements. It is a big setback for Russia which is already struggling because of global economic sanctions and facing losses and casualties due to war with Ukraine. This move to create a leak and partially put an end to Russian dependence can be considered a 'diplomatic move with ulterior motives'.