Where does Belgium get its gas and what are the alternatives?

More and more European countries are looking at ways of reducing reliance on uncertain gas supplies from Russia.  Belgium is better off than most, but European demand for an alternative is weighing on the price of gas and the amount of gas available on the common European market.  Belgium too depends on this market.

Russia has threatened to cut off gas and oil supplies, but to bolster its war chest is in return also heavily dependent on the revenue gas and oil exports generate.  Still, with the war in Ukraine, Europeans are now eager to find alternative sources.  Russia is the market leader when it comes to EU gas imports.  The EU imports around 40% of its gas from Russia.

Belgium imports between 4% and 6% of its gas needs from Russia, a relatively low figure by international standards.  For many years Belgium has been heavily reliant on the Netherlands with around 33% of gas imports hailing from North of the border.  Norway provides nearly 30% of Belgian gas needs with a further 20% coming from Qatar.

Much of the gas is imported via pipelines, but Belgium also possesses a large LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) terminal in the port of Zeebrugge.  The Flemish port also plays an important role in supplying gas to France.  The LNG terminal offers great flexibility in case the EU needs to import more gas from the US or other sources.

However, Belgium’s reliance on the EU gas market does mean that it is exposed and energy watchdog CREG estimates the country; like the EU as a whole, is 40 reliant on Russian gas.  European shortages and price fluctuations will also hit home here, even though we don’t use much Russian gas ourselves.

Russia is the world’s biggest natural gas exporter followed by Iran, Qatar and the US.   Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and the UAE are more modest suppliers. Qatar is seen as the best option to help make good any shortfall due to a wish for lower reliance on Russia.  Algeria that already possesses two pipelines to Spain is another favourite.  Egypt and Libya too are potential suppliers.  However, Libya is seen as ‘unstable’ and does not possess the LNG infrastructure.  Nigeria is another option though a planned gas pipeline through Algeria is viewed as ‘problematic’ given conflicts and the terrorist threat in the region of the Sahel.  

The US does possess the infrastructure to supply LNG gas as well as a willingness to see the Europeans less reliant on the Russian federation.

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