Europe is racing to prepare for this winter’s energy crisis

  • Spain may close energy-intensive industries at peak times
  • France prepares to send gas to Germany in October
  • Germany will sign LNG contracts in the UAE
  • Berlin is still working on rescuing Uniper

BERLIN / PARIS, 19 Sept. (Reuters) – European governments on Monday outlined new measures to address potential energy shortages this winter and competed to improve energy grids to share energy, with Russian gas flows continuing to operate at significantly reduced rates. during the war in Ukraine.

Germany said it expects to sign liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracts in the UAE. With the closure of the main Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Russia, it plans to build new LNG terminals for the shipment of gas, while European partners Spain and France were also working on contingency plans. Read more

“Hopefully, the savings in Germany are high and we have some luck with the weather, we have … a chance to get through the winter comfortably,” said Economy Minister Robert Habeck after a tour of a future LNG terminal in Lubmin, in northern Germany.

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Habeck said Germany will not allow large gas importers such as VNG [RIC:RIC:VNG.UL] become insolvent, while a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy said “focused” discussions on aid were underway with troubled importer Uniper (UN01.DE). Read more

Russia, which had supplied about 40% of the European Union’s gas prior to the invasion of Ukraine in February, said it closed the pipeline because Western sanctions hampered operations. European politicians say it is a pretext and accuse Moscow of using energy as a weapon.

On Monday, German buyers briefly booked capacity to receive Russian gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, once one of Europe’s main gas supply routes, for the first time since the line closed three weeks ago. But they soon abandoned the requests.

It was not immediately clear why buyers had submitted capacity requests when Russia did not provide any indication since it cut off the line that would be restarting shortly. Read more

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine, although very small, continued.

But the sharp drop in Russian fuel exports, in retaliation to Western sanctions on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has left governments looking for energy resources, but also warning that power outages could occur, amid fears. of a recession.

The German economy is already contracting and will likely get worse during the winter months as gas consumption is reduced or rationed, the country’s central bank said Monday.

POWER FAILURES?

In France, natural gas exports to Germany could begin around 10 October, the head of the French energy regulator CRE said, following President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement that the EU’s two neighbors would help each other. each other with the flows of electricity and gas.

“Until now, gas only flowed from Germany to France, so we didn’t have the technical tools to reverse the flows and we didn’t even have a method to regulate prices,” Emmanuelle Wargon, head of CRE, told franceinfo radio.

While French energy group EDF is rushing to repair corrosion-affected nuclear reactors, “exceptional” measures this winter could include localized electricity cuts if winter is cold and EDF’s plans are delayed, Wargon said. Read more

“But there will be no gas cuts for families. Never,” he said.

Spain’s Minister of Industry Reyes Maroto said forcing energy-intensive companies to shut down during peak consumption is an option on the table this winter if needed.

The companies would have been compensated financially, he said in an interview with the Spanish news agency Europa Press, adding that there is no need to impose such closures now.

And the Finns have been warned by national grid operator Fingrid that they should be prepared for power outages. Read more

Reflecting on the outages caused across the continent, Finnish electricity retailer Karhu Voima Oy said it had filed for bankruptcy due to a sharp rise in electricity prices.

‘BACK IN TIME’

Meanwhile, Ukraine has accused Russian forces of bombing near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the southern Mykolaiv region of Ukraine. Read more

Since its forces were driven out of Kharkiv, Russia has repeatedly fired at power plants, water infrastructure and other civilian targets in what Ukraine says is retaliation for defeats on the ground. Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians. Read more

European gas stocks are now 85.6% full, with inventories in Germany close to 90%, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.

“The shares will continue to be further developed, supported by the finalization of scheduled maintenance works and the increase in Norwegian flows starting this week,” analysts from Energi Danmark said in a morning note.

Meanwhile, according to analysts, European thermal coal imports in 2022 could be the highest in the past four years.

European thermal coal imports this year could rise to around 100 million tonnes, the highest since 2017, according to Noble Resources International Pte Ltd, while commodity pricing agency Argus expects shipments to hit a four-year high. .

“Europe is going back in time,” Rodrigo Echeverri, Noble’s head of research, said at a conference.

Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday, driven by expectations of weaker global demand and the strength of the US dollar ahead of a potentially large rise in interest rates, although supply concerns limited the drop. Read more

Oil has also come under pressure from forecasts of weaker demand, such as the International Energy Agency’s forecast last week that the fourth quarter will see zero demand growth. Read more

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Reporting by the Reuters offices; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Edmund Blair, Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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