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Can Europe Avoid A Worst-Case Energy Scenario This Winter?

Can Europe Avoid A Worst-Case Energy Scenario This Winter?

  • European countries have done most things they feasibly could to fill gas storage units.
  • Overall in the EU, gas storage was 92.37% full as of October 17.
  • Weather will be the determining factor in how fast gas in storage would be depleted, so Europe hopes for the best and prays for a milder winter.

Europe’s gas prices fell at the start of this week to the lowest level in three months as storage is fuller than initially expected, LNG cargoes are coming in, and the weather is mild.   But European governments have been preparing for the worst-case scenario in which a colder-than-usual winter could quickly sap gas in storage, send gas prices soaring again, intensify competition for costly LNG with Asia, break consumers’ resolve to conserve energy in freezing temperatures, and force more businesses and industrial processes to halt operations.

Europe has done all it can to ensure the heating and lights will be on this winter, analysts say. Yet this may not be enough—a long cold, windless spell this winter would threaten to unravel all the efforts and lead to mandatory energy-saving targets, rationing, or rolling outages.

The Good News

All that can be feasibly done to ensure alternative gas supply after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Russian halt of gas flows to nearly all EU member states has been done. Floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) are being set up in Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland. Eemshaven in the Netherlands and Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel in Germany are expected to begin operations as early as the end of this year. Europe is paying a lot for LNG supply, outbidding Asia, which was the top buyer of spot cargoes before the war.

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