Europe braced for a potential gas crisis as historic heatwave boosts demand

Europe is bracing for the possibility of a full-blown gas crisis this weekend like a historic heatwave that has increased demand for energy to help cool the continent’s homes and businesses. this land.

On Thursday, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – a vital lifeline connecting Russian gas to the bloc – will reopen in its usual 10 days. Maintenance work. But concerns are growing that Russia will turn off the faucet in retaliation for sanctions the European Union has imposed since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s Economy Minister, earlier this month said the country must “prepare for the worst.”

“Anything can happen,” Habeck said in a radio interview.

This pipeline supplies 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe, accounting for about 40% of total pipeline imports from Russia.

A complete cut off from Moscow’s gas is not out of the question. The country has cut gas exports to several European countries. Last month, Germany, the region’s largest economy, declared a “gas crisis” after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company, cut pipeline exports by 60%.

Gazprom blamed the move on the West’s decision to keep key turbines because of sanctions.

A gas crisis this week will also come at the worst of times. Europe is sweltering under record heat – parts of France and Spain are battling bushfires as temperatures are expected to rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coming days.

Rising temperatures have spurred the need for electricity to power air conditioning units. Enagas, the operator of Spain’s gas transmission system, said last week that demand for natural gas to generate electricity had hit a new record of 800 gigawatt hours.

“The sharp increase in demand for natural gas for power generation was mainly due to the high temperatures recorded as a result of the heatwave,” Enagas said in a press statement last Thursday.

Some analysts are more optimistic, given Europe’s alternative power supply and the fact that the heatwave will end by midweek.

Henning Gloystein, Director of Energy, Climate and Resources at Eurasia Group, told CNN Business.

Meanwhile, European countries are racing to fill up their gas storage facilities to avoid a potentially catastrophic winter energy shortage.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said the “next few months will be crucial” to bolster the bloc’s supply, said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. know in a press statement on Monday.

“If Russia decides to completely cut off gas supplies before Europe can raise its reserves to 90 percent, the situation will be even more dire and challenging,” he added.

According to the European Gas Infrastructure Agency, gas storage levels across the European Union are currently around 64%.

The price of Dutch natural gas, the European standard, rose 3% to €165 (US$167) per megawatt hour on Monday from Friday, according to data from the Intercontinental Exchange, according to data from the Intercontinental Exchange. .

Earlier this month, fears of a large gas cut had pushed prices to their highest levels since the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hovering around €183 ($186) per megawatt-hour. Prices have increased 129% since the beginning of the year.

Julia Horowitz contributed reporting



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