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Experts say Europe faces ‘unprecedented risk’ of a gas shortage



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Europe faces “unprecedented risks” to its natural gas supplies this winter after Russia cut off most pipeline shipments, the International Energy Agency said Monday, warning that European nations could wind up competing with Asia for already scarce and expensive liquid gas that comes by ship.

The Paris-based IEA said in its quarterly gas report that the European Union’s 27 countries would need to reduce natural gas use by 13% over the winter in case of a complete Russian cutoff amid the war in Ukraine. Much of that cutback would have to come from consumer behavior such as turning down thermostats by 1 degree and adjusting boiler temperatures as well as industrial and utility conservation, the group said, AP reported.

The EU on Friday agreed to mandate a reduction in electricity consumption by at least 5% during peak price hours.

Just a trickle of Russian gas is still arriving in pipelines through Ukraine to Slovakia and across the Black Sea through Turkey to Bulgaria. Two other routes, under the Baltic Sea to Germany and through Belarus and Poland, have shut down.

Another hazard highlighted by the study was a late winter cold snap, which would be particularly challenging because underground gas reserves flow more slowly at the end of the season due to less gas and lower pressure in the storage caverns. The EU has already filled storage to 88%, ahead of its goal of 80% before winter. The IEA assumed 90% would be needed in its Russian gas cutoff scenario.

Businesses in Europe have already cut back natural gas use, sometimes simply by abandoning energy-intensive activity such as making steel and fertilizer, while smaller businesses like bakeries are feeling a severe crimp in their costs.

High prices for natural gas, which is used for heating homes, generating electricity and a host of industrial processes, are fueling record consumer inflation of 10% in the 19 EU nations that use the shared euro currency. The high energy prices are sapping so much consumer purchasing power that economists predict a recession at the end of this year and the beginning of next.

European governments and utilities have made up much of the Russian shortfall by purchasing expensive supplies of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, that comes by ship from countries such as the U.S. and Qatar and by obtaining increased pipeline supplies from Norway and Azerbaijan.

The goal is to prevent storage levels from falling so far that governments must ration gas to businesses. Gas storage must remain above 33% for a secure winter, according to the IEA, while levels below that risk shortages if there’s a late cold snap.

Lower levels also would make it harder for Europe to refill storage next summer, while higher reserves from conservation would help lower extremely high energy prices.

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne on Monday played down concerns of gas shortages, saying her country has diversified its supplies and stocked up “to the maximum.”

“We are ready to face this winter,” she told France’s lower house of parliament. Reiterating her government’s drive for energy saving, Borne added there are no risks of energy cuts in coming months “if everyone plays their part.”

European leaders say the cutback in Russian gas is energy blackmail aimed at pressuring governments over their support for Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow.

Since Russia halted gas flows this month through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, it and the parallel Nord Stream 2 — built but never operated after Germany refused to certify it — were damaged in underwater explosions that European governments say are sabotage.

Demand for liquefied gas has driven up prices and tightened supply to the extent that poorer countries in Asia cannot afford it. Bangladesh is experiencing widespread power blackouts, while Pakistan faces rolling blackouts and has introduced reduced working hours so shops and factories can save electricity.

“Inter-regional competition in LNG procurement may create further tensions, as additional European needs would put more pressure on other buyers, especially in Asia, and conversely cold spells in Northeast Asia could limit Europe’s access to LNG,” the agency said.

The gas crisis in Europe has also deprived Asian countries of the limited number of floating regasification terminals, which were expected to play a major role in LNG imports in Southeast Asia. Europe has secured 12 of the vessels and plans another nine.


Afghan ministry of commerce meets with stakeholders to build a refinery

Nooruddin Azizi, acting Minister of Commerce and Industry, met with technical teams from Iran’s Veera Gas Sepehr Sokht Company, and Emirati Oil and Gas Company of Afghanistan.



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Nooruddin Azizi, acting Minister of Commerce and Industry, met with technical teams from Iran’s Veera Gas Sepehr Sokht Company, and Emirati Oil and Gas Company of Afghanistan, as well as officials from the Afghanistan National Standards Authority (ANSA) in a move to establish a refinery in the country.

In this meeting, the representative of Veera Gas Sepehr Sokht Company shared a plan to establish a refinery, over three stages.

The refinery would be established to process oil extracted in Afghanistan.

They also provided technical details on quantity, and quality of what the final product would be.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Afghanistan National Standards Authority (ANSA) and the State Oil and Gas Company have been entrusted by the Economic Commission to invest in the establishment of a refinery that meets global standards.


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Afghanistan sells 20,000 tons of crude oil for $10.5 million

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum on Sunday sold 20,000 tons of crude oil for $10.5 million, said acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum Shahabuddin Delawar.



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The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum on Sunday sold 20,000 tons of crude oil for $10.5 million, said acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum Shahabuddin Delawar.

Speaking at a bidding ceremony, he said the oil was extracted from the Angut area of the Amu Darya oil field and was sold to a local company.

Delawar added that bidding for the extraction and exploration of 11 oil and gas blocks across an area of 23,000 square kilometers in Herat province will be held in the near future.

According to him, contracts will also be awarded for oil extraction in Katwaz area of Paktika Province.

Based on the rules of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the winning companies are obliged to process crude oil inside the country, as it would provide job opportunities to locals.

Meanwhile, Delawar said that they are committed to using professional companies in the mining sector.

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New support fund officially launched for private sector



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A support fund for the private sector was officially launched on Thursday in the presence of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Nooruddin Azizi, acting Minister of Commerce in Industry, officials of various ministries and members of the private sector.

The private sector support fund has been established to achieve sustainable economic growth and development, reduce unemployment, create new job opportunities, trade balance, reduce obstacles and threats to private sector activities, and provide facilities in the trade and transit process.

Also, having a reliable financial source for implementing projects and programs related to the private sector, financing programs related to the National Ports Committee, building the required facilities in ports and crossings, creating laboratories and purchasing equipment for testing the quality of imported and exported goods, are among the main aims of this initiative.

Baradar said at the event that with this system, the level of unemployment will decrease and work opportunities will be provided for citizens.

He asked members of the private sector to speed up their “activities and perform them with better quality”.

Azizi in turn said: “The projects that are prioritized through the leadership committee of the fund and in consultation with the private sector will surely increase trade, reduce prices for consumers, and accelerate imports and exports.”

He said the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is committed to providing grounds for the development of the private sector.

The private sector support fund is meanwhile made up of leaders and technical committees.

The members of these committees consist of representatives of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, General Directorate of Affairs, Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Finance, Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Economy, Energy and Water, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Mines and Petroleum, and sectorial chambers.

The main duties of the committee are leading, approving or rejecting proposed projects, determining the contribution amount for the fund, prioritizing the projects, monitoring the activities of the technical committee, monitoring the implementation of the projects, and submitting a report on the expenses of the projects to the highest authority.

This fund is financed through the help, assistance and donations of people and organizations at a national and international level and a small amount on taxes on imported and exported goods will go towards the fund.

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