To chasten Russia, G7 must work for effective sanctions on energy exports

To ensure that sanctions are implemented against Russia’s energy exports, the Group of Seven advanced nations must unite and do their best to secure alternative resources.

The United States has imposed a complete ban on imports of Russian crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas. Britain also announced that it will phase out oil imports from the country by the end of the year.

Russia, a resource-rich country, accounts for about 10% of the world’s crude oil production and nearly 20% of the world’s natural gas production. It has earned foreign currency through exporting these commodities and used the money to build up its military. Tough sanctions are essential to cut off revenue sources for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

As oil-producing countries, the United States and Britain both import relatively small amounts of crude oil and natural gas from Russia.

On the other hand, Japan and Europe are highly dependent on Russia in terms of energy. For Germany, about 50% of its natural gas imports come from Russia, and for Japan it is nearly 10%. Although a total ban is difficult for the time being, the two G7 members should make efforts to reduce imports from Russia.

At their extraordinary meeting on Thursday, G7 energy ministers strongly condemned Russia’s military aggression and confirmed a policy of reducing their dependence on Russian crude oil and natural gas.

In particular, the ministers said it is urgent for European countries, which import natural gas from Russia via pipelines, to take steps. The G7 will encourage Europe to diversify supplies and enhance energy efficiency, the ministers added.

It is important for G7 members to work together to establish a framework to allow them to supply resources to each other, while also expanding investments in natural gas and oil development, which has stagnated amid the trend toward decarbonization.

Even if the G7 countries drastically reduce their imports from Russia, their sanctions will have a limited impact if China provides a loophole by increasing its crude oil imports to offset the reduction. The G7 must call on China to act responsibly.

Amid soaring crude oil prices, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States announced Wednesday that his country will encourage other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to consider an output increase. Crude oil prices temporarily slumped following his announcement.

Cooperation from oil-producing countries in the Middle East is key to stable energy procurement. Oil-producing countries will also be negatively affected if soaring oil prices plunge the global economy into chaos. It is hoped that developed countries will continue to urge oil-producing countries to increase their output as a vital step toward stabilizing the global economy as well.

The use of nuclear power is effective for the sake of energy security. In Europe, there are moves to build new reactors.

In Japan, a group of Diet members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has adopted a resolution calling for promptly resuming the operation of suspended nuclear power reactors. Some opposition parties, including the Democratic Party for the People, have expressed support for the idea. It is hoped that all possible steps will be taken to diversify energy sources.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 12, 2022.