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The EU is planning to turn to Africa to help wean itself off Russian natural gas, a report says

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A natural and associated petroleum gas processing plant in the Yarakta Oil Field, owned by Irkutsk Oil Company, in Russia's Irkutsk Region on March 11, 2019.
Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

The European Union is planning to turn to Africa to help wean itself off Russian natural gas, Bloomberg reported, citing a draft document detailing the trade bloc's energy strategy.

Countries in western Africa, like Nigeria, Senegal, and Angola, in particular have largely untapped potential for liquefied natural gas, the European Commission said in the document, per Bloomberg.

A number of gas pipeline projects linking Africa to Europe have been studied in recent years, and feasibility studies are ongoing to build the world's longest offshore pipeline, carrying natural gas from Nigeria to Morocco and Europe, according to a Nigerian presidential adviser.

Europe gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia, but the country's invasion of Ukraine has accelerated the EU's efforts to reduce reliance on Russian supplies.

The European Commission has proposed cutting EU demand for Russian natural gas by two-thirds before the end of the year under a plan to diversify supplies and speed up the rollout of renewable gases. The EU has agreed to stop imports of Russian coal starting later this year, but hasn't announced an embargo on natural gas or oil.

In the draft strategy document, the European Commission said it planned to boost imports of liquefied natural gas by 50 billion cubic meters and pipeline gas from countries other than Russia by 10 billion cubic meters, per Bloomberg.

This includes increasing liquefied natural gas imports from the US by 15 billion cubic meters in 2022, with total US imports to Europe of around 50 billion cubic meters each year until 2030.

In addition, the commission said in the document that it planned to support efforts to double the current capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor – which transports natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe – to 20 billion cubic meters a year. The bloc also plans to boost liquefied natural gas supplies through a trilateral memorandum of understanding with Egypt and Israel, per Bloomberg.

A European Commission spokesperson told Insider that it was standard policy not to comment on leaked documents, but added: "I can tell you simply that the Commission is working on the development of an International Energy Strategy, and that this is tentatively scheduled for adoption on 18 May."

Japan and South Korea have already redirected some liquefied natural gas to Europe while the Commission is in discussions with Canada to potentially increase gas exports to Europe in the future, Bloomberg reported, citing the draft document.

In 2019, around 16% of the EU's natural gas imports came from Norway, 8% from Algeria, and 5% from Qatar, per the European Commission. These countries and Russia collectively supplied 70% of the EU's natural gas imports.

"In terms of pipeline gas, Norway has already increased its deliveries to Europe and both Algeria and Azerbaijan have indicated their willingness to do so," the commission said in the draft document, per Bloomberg. It added that Qatar "stands ready to facilitate swaps with Asian countries."

The commission also plans to import 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030, Bloomberg reported, citing the draft document.

The International Energy Agency said on April 13 that Russia exports about $400 million worth of natural gas to the EU every day.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously spoken out against European countries continuing to use Russian energy supplies, telling the BBC that they were making money "out of blood." But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said a Western embargo on Russian gas imports probably wouldn't stop the war, telling Der Spiegel that Putin would never have started the war if he were open to economic arguments.

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