Gaps in EU's Preparation for Potential Gas Crises

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
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Gaps in EU's Preparation for Potential Gas Crises

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The European Union is insufficiently prepared to weather a future gas crisis despite introducing a raft of measures to end its dependence on Russian energy, the European Court of Auditors said on Monday.

Europe's energy supply was upended in 2022 when former top gas supplier Russia invaded Ukraine and slashed fuel deliveries, prompting the EU to introduce emergency policies to fill gas storage, reduce gas use, and jointly buy gas, Reuters reported.

Europe managed to avoid a major gas shortage during the crisis, but it is unclear how much of that can be credited to EU policies versus other factors like mild winter weather and high prices causing industries to use less gas, the ECA said in a report on Monday.

Coordination between Brussels and EU countries helped to forge new gas supply routes to avoid shortages, and the EU's obligation for countries to fill gas storage 90% ahead of winter created market certainty, the report said.

But the auditors said these actions did not sufficiently address the affordability of gas, the price of which surged to above 300 euros ($322) per megawatt hour in August 2022 from around 50 euros per MWh a year prior.

"The Commission knew already in 2014 that a cut-off of Russian gas would have a huge impact on prices, but never modelled its effects on consumers or industry," said Joao Leao, who led the audit.

The auditors flagged other gaps in Europe's preparations for supply crises, noting that six EU countries have kept the option to cut off gas deliveries to their neighbours in an emergency.

They declined to comment on how the scheduled expiry this year of a deal on the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine would affect Europe's energy security. But they noted the EU's overall reliance on Russia has dropped from 45% of total gas supplies in 2021 to around 15% last year.

Europe's gas demand is expected to decrease as countries reduce fossil fuel consumption to meet climate goals. The auditors said the EU is far behind on its plans to build carbon capture infrastructure to capture the emissions from continued gas combustion.



Saudi Arabia Unveils Extensive Mineralized Belts for Exploration Firms

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
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Saudi Arabia Unveils Extensive Mineralized Belts for Exploration Firms

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has unveiled its largest mineralized belts to date, spanning 4.7 thousand square kilometers and including five new exploration licenses.
The Ministry is inviting major mining and exploration companies to participate in the current Exploration Licensing Rounds, aiming to unlock the extensive mineral wealth of these belts.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Jarrah Al-Jarrah, emphasized that this initiative underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening its mining and minerals sector and creating investment opportunities.

The five available exploration licenses are part of the Ministry’s strategy to boost exploration investment and support Vision 2030 objectives, which aim to position mining as a key industry in the Kingdom.
These licenses cover significantly larger areas than previous rounds and are targeted at high-net-worth companies with developed base and precious metal mines.
Saudi Arabia is seeking investors capable of exploring and discovering large, tier-1 deposits within approximately 1,000 square kilometers of exploration licenses. The Kingdom’s infrastructure and competitive financing options make it well-positioned to develop new tier-1 sites.
The Ministry is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for the following mineralized belts:
- Jabal Sayid: Three exploration licenses covering 2,892 square kilometers. The belt contains copper, zinc, lead, gold, and silver.
- Al-Hajjar: Two exploration licenses at the Wadi Shwas VMS Belt, covering 1,896 square kilometers. This site holds deposits of gold, silver, copper, and zinc.
Al-Jarrah highlighted that Jabal Sayid and Al-Hajjar are the largest mineralized belt sites ever launched by the Kingdom.
The bidding process for the exploration licenses will be transparent and conducted in stages, beginning with pre-qualification from July to October 2024.
Qualified bidders will then submit technical proposals and social and environmental impact management plans by December 2024, with the winners announced and licenses granted in January 2025.