Some 30 billion cubic meters of gas could well be missing next year, in the event of a stoppage of deliveries from Russia.
“Not out of trouble“Europe risks running out of gas for the winter of 2023-24, warned the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday, which calls on governments to “act immediatelyin particular to reduce demand. Some 30 billion cubic meters of gas could well be missing next year, in the event of a halt in deliveries from Russia but also because of the economic rebound in China, which would absorb a large part of the liquefied natural gas (LNG), estimates in its calculations the IEA, created by the OECD in 1974 to advise countries on energy matters.
European reserves would then only be 65% full at the start of winter 2023-2024, compared to 95% today, its director Fatih Birol told a few journalists during an online press conference. “The “cushion” provided by current reserve levels, together with the recent drop in gas prices and unusually warm temperatures, should not lead to overly optimistic conclusions about the future.“Warns the IEA, which points out that in the summer of 2023 the global geopolitical and economic conditions for obtaining supplies and filling reserves should have changed significantly compared to 2022.
The filling of reserves benefited this summer from “key factors that may not be repeated in 2023“. Starting with the position of Russia, whose gas pipelines delivered almost normal quantities this year in the first half of the year, before deliveries slowed down, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine: ultimately, the country should have supplied some 60 billion of m3 to the European Union. What will be “highly unlikelyin 2023, notes the IEA, noting that Russian deliveries could even cease completely.
In addition, China’s lower LNG needs this year have facilitated European purchases. Global LNG production should increase, but only by 20 billion m3, and if Chinese imports return to their 2021 level in 2023, they would absorb most of this growth, estimates this analysis, titled “Never too early to prepare for winter 2023-24“. With prices easing this fall and demand limited by the mild weather, “there is a risk of overconfidence creeping into the subject of gas supplies to Europe. But we are by no means at the end of our troublescommented Fatih Birol.
Immediate action is needed
Governments must thereforetake immediate measures to accelerate in energy efficiency, the deployment of renewable energies, heat pumps, and any other means of structurally reducing the demand for gas“, underlines the economist, who must meet several representatives of European governments on Friday, to draw”the alarm bell for next winter“.
The Agency plans to publish soon “a roadmap“, proposing a list of these concrete actions that “would make it possible to have reserves filled to 95% at the start of the 2023-24 heating season and to structurally reduce gas consumption during the winter“.
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