Netherlands to cut Russian oil, gas imports by year-end

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The Netherlands aims to cut Russian oil and gas imports by the end of the year, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday, but he admitted Europe remained dependent on Moscow’s supply.

The European Union is scrambling to find alternatives to Russian energy after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine since Russia currently supplies 40 percent of the EU’s gas needs and some 15 percent to the Dutch.

“What the Netherlands would actually like to achieve is being independent of Russian gas and Russian oil before the end of the year,” Rutte said.

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“We can achieve this by working hard on a mix of energy savings and sustainability, but it will also have to lead to the import of energy from other countries, including liquid natural gas,” the Dutch leader told journalists at his weekly press conference.

The Netherlands imported some 11 billion euros ($11.8 billion) in oil from Russia in the first 11 months of last year, the Volkskrant daily newspaper said.

Around 3.7 billion euros were also spent on importing gas and coal from Russia, the paper said.

The Netherlands aimed to halt coal imports by August 11.

But Rutte admitted that even the Netherlands, which imported far less Russian gas than neighboring Germany and eastern EU countries, remained dependent on Russian supplies.

“It really is a challenge. We are very dependent on Russian gas in Europe and there are not many alternatives to LNG,” Rutte said.

It is estimated that Dutch gas consumption can be reduced by around nine billion cubic meters by 2025 through sustainable measures, a government statement said Friday.

“That is more than the import from Russia [about six billion cubic meters],” the statement added.

Europe’s largest port Rotterdam was expanding its liquid natural gas terminal and a floating terminal was being built in the northern port of Eemshaven.

“Approximately eight billion cubic meters of extra liquefied gas can be imported before the end of the year,” the government said.

In addition, the Dutch government will try “in the coming weeks” to conclude agreements with other countries to become independent of Russian oil “as quickly as possible,” it said.

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