Settore energetico

Because gas is a puzzle for Europe

The price of gas in the European benchmark is below 50 euros per megawatt hour, while the bloc's storage facilities are full in preparation for the winter.
The news on the energy front seems to be optimistic for the old continent, after the unprecedented crisis experienced with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
However, the issue of gas supply is much more complex than it might appear.
And, above all, it hides pitfalls that should not be underestimated.
What you need to know about Europe's ability to meet natural gas demand and what factors to monitor to avoid nasty surprises.
Why does Europe store gas in Ukraine? The EU's natural gas reserves are nearing full capacity, forcing the bloc's energy companies to store excess reserves in Ukraine ahead of peak demand in the winter months.
According to Gas Infrastructure Europe, EU storage has reached almost 99%, exceeding Brussels' target of 90% of capacity by November.
Data indicates the region has stored far more gas this year than some had feared in the aftermath of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, due to continued imports of liquefied natural gas and reduced demand .
This makes the EU less vulnerable to an energy shock, although it does not guarantee that the continent will have all the energy it needs next winter.
Now, what's new is that companies are increasingly turning to Ukraine, home to Europe's largest reservoirs, to store their reserves, pushing the amount of natural gas held in the country to its highest level since Russia's invasion last year.
Ukraine has emerged as a storage alternative despite risks from the war, partly because it has offered incentives such as cheap storage fees and customs duty exemptions for three years, which allow gas to be easily re-imported into the EU.
The country's reservoirs are also largely located deep underground in the west, far from the front lines, and currently contain more than 2 billion cubic meters of gas belonging to EU entities, according to Naftogaz, the state energy company .
It must be said, however, that the CEO of Naftogaz, Oleksiy Chernyshov, said that European companies are taking a "pure commercial risk" by putting their gas in Ukrainian deposits, which despite being far from the fighting could still be targeted by Russian attacks.
Naftogaz said 128 of its facilities across the country were damaged in Russian attacks between January and October this year, although industry operators say no underground warehouses were hit.
The issue is very delicate and storing gas needed for the winter in the nation at war against Russia, Europe's biggest rival at the moment, raises fears.
Will European gas be enough for the whole winter? The risk of a gas shortage in Europe is low this winter, barring any unplanned supply disruptions or long, deep cold spells hitting Europe and Asia at the same time, pricing chief Natasha Fielding said.
of European gas at Argus, a price reporting agency.
Some countries are also paying LNG tankers to serve as offshore “floating storage” to increase capacity.
Alex Froley, market analyst at consultancy ICIS noted that if current weather and supply and demand conditions remain stable, there will be a continued build-up of floating storage over the course of November, possibly reaching up to 30 cargoes waiting per day.
off Europe Analysts say the additional gas stored could protect against further sharp rises in European gas prices, which fell as much as 10% on Tuesday on forecasts of warmer weather in coming weeks.
However, the region's growing dependence on LNG after Russia cut gas supplies last year has made Europe more sensitive to potential supply disruptions, despite its now ample reserves.
The price of TTF, the European gas benchmark, has also been volatile this year as traders react to the war between Israel and Hamas – with Israel halting production at an offshore field not far from Gaza – and strikes at Australian plants.
Wayne Bryan, director of European gas research at LSEG, said current storage levels offer a short-term cushion, but warned that cold weather or disruptions in Norway, a key gas supplier to Europe, “ would quickly dry up such deposits.” The lack of viable alternatives to LNG…will leave the EU gas market exposed to greater levels of volatility, he added.

Author: Hermes A.I.

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