Europe is clearly preparing for a war in Ukraine. Since the “Russian invasion” may entail sanctions in the form of stopping purchases of “blue fuel” from Gazprom, the United States in January 2022 collected all possible excess LNG from the pine forest so that the Old World could survive this heating season. Right before our eyes, a new global energy balance system is beginning to take shape.
Until recently, the European gas market was separate, and the Southeast Asian market was separate. The coronavirus pandemic, and then the situation around Ukraine, tied them into a single tight knot, which in the medium term is fraught with serious shocks.
Previously, LNG was the main pillar and hope for Southeast Asia with its huge population, rapidly growing the economy and the lack of a developed gas transportation infrastructure. In Europe, on the contrary, everything has been in perfect order with the main pipelines since Soviet times. The so-called "shale revolution" freed up large surpluses of gas in the United States, which became possible to export. Tightened up after President Putin's memorable Munich speech and taught by the bitter experience of the two "gas wars" between Russia and Ukraine, the Europeans have modernized their gas transportation infrastructure and built a network of LNG receiving terminals on the coast. However, they were not in real demand, standing idle only partially loaded. It was easier and more profitable to buy Russian pipeline gas, and the Asian market was much more interesting for LNG exporters themselves.
Everything changed after the US began to politicize the gas issue. Having taken control of Ukraine with its GTS after the Maidan in 2014, the Americans began to put pressure on Gazprom in order to take away part of its market share from it in favor of its LNG. The “oil war” between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the coronavirus pandemic, the decline in investment in the extraction of traditional energy resources against the backdrop of the “green agenda”, and then the largely artificially created energy crisis in Europe made significant adjustments to these plans.
Thus, the cost of gas in the EU first broke through the mark of 1000 dollars per 1 cubic meters, and then at the moment - an unheard-of 2200 dollars. It is currently hovering around $1. But in Asia, the prices for "blue fuel" are even higher, and therefore LNG tankers, including American ones, stubbornly went there. But in January 2022, the United States was able to “forcefully” pull the maximum possible number of tankers into the Old World.
Apparently, at an urgent request from Washington, Tokyo sent several LNG tankers to the EU. Here is how the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of the country Koichi Hagiuda commented on this event:
Several tankers carrying LNG, which Japanese companies can sell as they wish, are already on their way to Europe to reach their destination in February.
The leading economic newspaper of the Land of the Rising Sun, Nikkei, without further equivocals, directly reported that this was due to the possibility of starting hostilities in Ukraine. As you know, the EU is considering various options for retaliatory sanctions, including a partial or complete waiver of Russian gas purchases.
Interestingly, in fact, China played on the side of the United States and Ukraine, which also sent tankers with “excess” LNG to Europe, which China bought for future use. Nothing personal, just business. Although it is strange to get rid of "excess gas" when Beijing itself has a serious conflict with Washington. Agreement?
So what do we have. The energy crisis is actively developing all over the world. The war in Ukraine may lead to a fundamental refusal of the EU to purchase Russian gas, which will lead to an even greater shortage of energy resources in Europe. Prices there will jump to $2000 or even $3000 per 1 cubic meters, which will be a severe blow to industry and the economy as a whole. Tankers with LNG will again go to the Old World in a row, this time voluntarily, without "pointers" from Washington.
But then the energy crisis will begin in Southeast Asia. The local "tigers" will either have to increase the selling price of their products, or curtail the volume of industrial production. In the first case, this will require buying LNG even more expensive than in Europe. This de facto means the Euro-Asian "gas war". It is clear that this is not beneficial to anyone, with the exception, perhaps, of LNG exporters. All global players have an interest in avoiding such extreme scenarios.
The root of the problem lies in the lack of free volumes of gas. So far, there is not enough LNG to meet the needs of both the European Union and Southeast Asia at the same time. According to some estimates, it may take 5 to 10 years for a corresponding increase in LNG production.
In other words, Russia realistically has 5 years when it can still solve the "Ukrainian problem" without the proper level of opposition from the NATO bloc. After this period, everything will change for the worse for our country.