President Vladmir Putin said on Wednesday Russia was not using gas as a weapon and was ready to help ease Europe’s energy crunch as the EU called an emergency summit to tackle skyrocketing prices.
Energy demand has surged as economies have rebounded from the pandemic, driving up prices of oil, gas and coal, stoking inflationary pressures and undermining efforts to cut the use of polluting fossil fuels in the fight against global warming.
China, the world’s second biggest economy and its biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has boosted coal output and imports, as domestic coal prices have hit record levels and power stations have struggled to keep the lights on https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-coal-prices-hit-record-high-floods-add-supply-woes-2021-10-13 in homes and factories.
The energy crunch has amplified Wednesday’s call by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for tripling investment https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/world-must-triple-clean-energy-investment-by-2030-curb-climate-change-iea-2021-10-13 in renewables to steady markets and fight climate change.
Europe’s gas squeeze https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/gas-reserves-subsidies-tax-cuts-eus-tools-combat-energy-price-spike-2021-10-13 has shone a spotlight on Russia, which accounts for a third of the region’s supplies, prompting European politicians to blame Moscow for not pumping enough.
Putin told an energy conference https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/kremlin-says-russian-gas-supplies-europe-are-maximum-levels-2021-10-13 in Moscow that the gas market was not balanced or predictable, particularly in Europe, but said Russia was meeting its contractual obligations to supply clients and was ready to boost supplies if asked.
He dismissed accusations that Russia was using energy as a weapon: “This is just politically motivated chatter, which has no basis whatsoever.”
The European Union has not asked Russia to increase supplies of gas to the bloc, a European Commission official told Reuters.
Russia and Europe have been embroiled in a dispute over a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, to supply Russian gas to Germany. The pipeline is built but awaits approval to start pumping, amid opposition from the United States and some Europeans nations that fear it will make Europe even more reliant on Russia.
Some European politicians say Moscow is using the fuel crisis as leverage, a charge it has repeatedly denied.
The European Commission outlined measures on Wednesday that the 27-nation EU would take to combat the energy crisis, including exploring a voluntary option for countries to jointly buy gas.
Ministers from EU countries hold an extraordinary meeting on Oct. 26 to discuss the price spike.
“The only way to fully decouple gas from electricity is no longer to use it to generate power,” EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said. “This is the EU’s long-term goal, to replace fossil fuels with renewables.”
The Paris-based IEA said the world had to invest $4 trillion by 2030 in clean energy and infrastructure – triple current levels – to achieve net zero emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the target of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
“The world is not investing enough to meet its future energy needs,” it said in a report, published before the United Nations COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which starts on Oct. 31.
As renewables have failed to fill gaps amid surging demand, oil and gas prices have roared higher.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries trimmed its world oil demand forecast https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/opec-trims-2021-demand-forecast-says-gas-price-surge-could-help-2021-10-13 for 2021 but said surging gas prices could mean customers switch to oil.
Benchmark crude was trading close to last week’s more than three-year high above $84 a barrel.
Putin said that oil prices could reach $100 a barrel. “This is quite possible,” he said. “We and our partners at OPEC+ are doing our utmost to stabilise the market.”
The benchmark European gas price is up more than 350% this year, trading above $31 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on Wednesday, although down from last week’s spike above $52.
“Current prices are above fundamentally justified levels, should remain volatile and could still reach $100/mmBtu or above this season if the weather gets very cold,” Citi bank said as it also raised its forecast for European and Asian benchmark gas prices for the fourth quarter by about $3.
The United States was also likely to feel the pain, according to the Energy Information Administration, which warned on Wednesday that it would cost more to heat U.S. homes this winter.
The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), which monitors security of supply, said a cold winter in Europe would require an increase of gas imports by about 5% to 10% compared to previous maximum levels.
“We’re reaching out to trade partners to discuss if it’s possible to increase their deliveries in the market,” EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said.
The Commission expects prices to remain high until April 2022.
In China, the most-active January Zhengzhou thermal coal futures touched a record high of 1,640 yuan ($254.54) per tonne on Wednesday, up more than 190% so far this year.
Local governments in top Chinese coal producing areas Shanxi and Inner Mongolia ordered about 200 mines to boost output, but rain flooded 60 mines in Shanxi. China’s coal imports surged 76% in September.
Seeking to ease the power crunch, Beijing said it would allow power plants to charge commercial customers market-based prices, breaking with a policy that had allowed industry to lock in fixed-price electricity deals with suppliers.
($1 = 6.4430 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; Vladimir Soldatkin, Oksana Kobzeva and Alexander Marrow in Moscow; Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh in Beijing; Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore, Noah Browning in London; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Carmel Crimmins and Alex Richardson)
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a shot that is different than their original inoculation.
The decision paves the way for millions more people in the United States to get the additional protection with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus causing breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.
The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.
Last week, an advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend a third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups.
The panel also recommended a second shot of the J&J vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation at least two months after receiving their first.
The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under some pressure to authorize the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a widespread booster campaign.
The advisory panel meeting included a presentation of data on mixing vaccines from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study in which 458 participants received some combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J shots.
The data showed that people who initially got J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a stronger immune response when boosted with either the Pfizer or Moderna shot, and that “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types was safe in adults.
Many countries including Canada and the U.K. have backed mix-and-match strategies for the widely-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States but is based on similar viral vector technology as J&J’s vaccine.
Reuters reported in June that infectious disease experts were weighing the need for booster shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after the J&J shot.
A CDC advisory committee on Thursday will make its recommendations about which groups of people should get the Moderna and J&J boosters, which the agency’s director will use to inform her final decision.
About 11.2 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to data from the CDC.
What’s happening in Canada
- Pandemic restriction opponents line up behind Manitoba PC leadership hopeful.
- Some unvaccinated municipal workers in northeastern Ontario sent home.
- N.L. sees 9 cases as officials make tweaks to fix vaccine passport issues.
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday, more than 241.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the latest figures posted by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million, according to the U.S-based university’s coronavirus tracker.
In Europe, Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia went back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins, as vaccine-skeptic ex-communist countries face record highs of infections and deaths.
In Africa, Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Americas, 41 per cent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization said.
In Asia, China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.
N.Korea says U.S. overreacting over submarine missile test
This week’s test of a new ballistic missile from a submarine was part of North Korea’s mid- and long-term plan to bolster self defense and was and not aimed at the United States or any other country, an unnamed spokesperson at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
Washington had taken “overly provocative moves” by calling the test a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional peace and stability, the spokesperson said.
The Security Council met on Wednesday over the launch at the request of the United States and Britain, and the U.S. envoy urged Pyongyang to accept offers of talks, reiterating that Washington has no hostile intent toward it.
The foreign ministry spokesperson said the United States’ “double standards” over missile development cast doubt over its overtures.
“It is a clear double standard that the United States denounces us for developing and testing the same weapons system it already has or was developing, and that only adds suspicions to their sincerity after saying they have no hostility towards us,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA.
The United States and the council could face “more grave and serious consequences” if they opted for wrong behaviour, the spokesperson said, warning against “fiddling with a time bomb.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Richard Pullin)
Britain in talks to sell missiles in arms deal with Ukraine -The Times
The UK government is in talks with Ukraine to sell it missiles for the first time in an arms deal, the Times reported on Wednesday.
Under the plans, the Ministry of Defence would provide surface-to surface and air-to-surface missiles to Ukraine, the newspaper added.
(Reporting by Nishit Jogi in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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