Relevance up to 16:00 2022-01-07 UTC+00
Gas reserves in the European Union are currently at an all-time low. According to the global energy research group Wood Mackenzie, the level of gas reserves in European storage facilities is at risk of falling to a historic low this spring. In other words, in the next two months, in the event of record frosts, European countries are likely to remain without gas.
The cost of February gas futures on the ICE Futures platform slightly rises, namely by 3.4%, to $1,072 per 1 thousand cubic meters.
Europe is currently in the stage of energy transition, when coal-fired power plants are being actively closed. However, the climate agenda and the pursuit of environmental friendliness increases the dependence of the euro region on renewable energy sources, which this region cannot satisfy in sufficient amounts of energy, especially on a permanent basis. For example, last year, the desire of European countries to follow the climate agenda and receive energy from wind and solar resulted in a sharp decline in electricity generation and further increased the dependence of the eurozone on oil-producing and “gas-supplying” countries.
According to Bloomberg, gas storage facilities in Europe are currently only 56% full, which is 15% lower than the average over the past ten years. Wood Mackenzie experts predict that if Russia refuses to increase gas supplies by the end of March, the level of energy reserves in Europe will fall by another 15%. If this happens, the storage facilities of the eurozone in terms of the gas contained in it will be at the lowest level in history.
Wood Mackenzie Vice President Massimo Di Odoardo admits that it will not be possible to avoid the predicted decline without Russia. The required level of gas reserves in Europe can be achieved only with the help of additional Russian supplies via the Nord Stream-2 pipeline or at least along the current routes. According to Di Odoardo, the coming year promises to be as unstable for European gas prices as the past one.
In 2021, exchange prices for gas in Europe reached record levels several times. On December 21, the cost of fuel in European countries for the first time exceeded $2,000 per 1 cubic meter. Experts of the Fitch rating agency linked this price surge with a decrease in the pumping of Russian gas through the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline and with reports of a possible severe cold snap this winter in the eurozone. The reason for the increase in gas prices could also be the news about the launch of the Nord Stream-2 only in the second half of 2022.
On December 30, the cost of gas dropped below $1,000 per 1 cubic meter. This was largely facilitated by the statements of the head of Gazprom Alexey Miller about the readiness of both branches of the Nord Stream-2 for operation. In addition, he added that the energy crisis in Europe is due to the fact that the European Commission abandoned long-term contracts at the time and gave preference to spot contracts. The drop in its own energy production against the background of the predicted cold winter, the current energy crisis is only aggravating.
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