Gas crisis worsens after Europe burns winter stocks


HELSINKI/BRUSSELS—Europe could face an even worse energy crisis next year after emptying its natural gas tanks to weather this winter’s cold, the head of the International Energy Agency said Wednesday. . crisis.

European countries have filled their storage tanks to about 90% capacity after Russia cut gas supplies in response to Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.

Gas prices, which surged in the months following the February invasion, have receded. It may be short-lived.

To address this issue, the European Union is considering capping gas prices. This is a matter of splitting up the 27-country bloc as some countries fear it could make securing supplies more difficult.

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based IEA, said: “Europe, with almost 90% gas reserves, could survive the coming winter with only minor blemishes, barring any political or technical surprises. would,’ he said.

The real challenge facing Europe, which has historically been dependent on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas, began in February or March when high winter demand drained its reservoirs from 25% to 30% depletion. It should be replenished.

“This winter is difficult, but next winter could be very difficult,” Birol told Finnish journalists.

European governments have moved to shield consumers from the impact of higher prices, with Germany on Wednesday paying just under €13 billion ($12.8 billion) in fees charged by its four high-voltage grids. , announced that it will subsidize electricity bills next year. Enterprise (TSO).

The tariff forms part of the electricity bill and accounts for about 10% of the overall cost for retail customers and one-third for industrial companies such as steel and chemicals.

Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Berlin’s intervention would stabilize tariffs, but otherwise tariffs would triple given runaway wholesale electricity prices and rising operating costs for TSOs. .

Until the outbreak of the Ukrainian War in late February, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany was one of Western Europe’s main sources of gas.

Nord Stream 1 consisted of two separate lines and Nord Stream 2 was filled with gas, but it was not sent to Europe as Germany stopped licensing just before Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. supply was not allowed.

Three of the four lines have been claimed by the West and Russia to be sabotage that caused the massive leak, and Danish officials said a fourth line was depressurized on Tuesday.


President Vladimir Putin accused the US and its allies on Friday, a claim Washington rejected. Russia has accused the West of “ridiculous” theories that last week’s explosion sabotaged the pipeline itself.

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A gas leak from Nord Stream 1 in the Swedish Economic Zone in the Baltic Sea, taken from a Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022.

The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russia must participate in the investigation into the incident, while one of Putin’s allies recalled a 1983 attack on oil infrastructure in Nicaragua supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said EU countries will strengthen protection of critical infrastructure by conducting stress tests and using satellite surveillance to detect potential threats. Said I needed it.

She said the European Parliament will discuss the EU’s price cap plan ahead of the EU 27 summit in Prague on Friday.

Details have yet to be decided, but the idea is supported by a majority of countries that see it as a way to deal with inflation. However, it has faced opposition from Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, citing concerns that it will be difficult to secure supplies.

In his speech, Von der Leyen said that EU member states should also start buying gas collectively to avoid competing with each other on the world market and pushing prices higher.

Earlier tensions in the gas market eased as Russian energy company Gazprom resumed gas exports to Italy via Austria on Wednesday.

But Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday that Russia could cut oil production to offset the negative impact of Western-imposed price caps over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

A price cap plan agreed by seven industrialized nations to deny participating nations insurance, financing, brokerage, navigation and other services for oil cargoes priced above the price caps on crude oil and petroleum products. I am asking for

By Essi Lehto and Kate Abnett