Europe’s campaign to quit Russian fuel is designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. It’s also wreaking havoc thousands of miles away from the conflict, plunging Pakistan into darkness, undermining one regime and threatening the stability of the country’s new leadership.
A decade ago, the world’s fifth-most populous country took specific steps to insulate itself from the kinds of violent price spikes that are roiling the market today. It made a massive investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and signed long-term contracts with suppliers in Italy and Qatar. Now some of those suppliers have defaulted, though they continue to sell into the more lucrative European market, leaving Pakistan in exactly the position it tried so hard to avoid.
In order to avoid blackouts during the Eid holiday last month, the government paid nearly $100 million to procure a single LNG shipment from the spot market, a record for the cash-strapped nation. In the fiscal year ending July, the country’s costs for LNG could top $5 billion, twice what they were a year ago. Even so, the government can’t cushion the blow for its citizens: The International Monetary Fund is in talks to bail out the nation with a key condition that it cuts fuel and electricity subsidies.