Europe may face tighter energy shortage next winter, IEA's head warns


Europe may face tighter energy shortage next winter, IEA's head warns


Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has warned of potential energy shortages next winter due to a lack of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) entering the market, while China's appetite is set to rise this year.

Birol said European governments made many proper moves last year to secure energy supplies, such as building more LNG terminals to replace pipeline imports of Russian gas.

They were also lucky, he added, because a mild winter dampened demand, while the slump in China’s economy caused the first dip in the nation’s LNG consumption in 40 years.

An additional 23 billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG is forecast this year. Yet, even with a slight economic recovery as pandemic restrictions eased, China would likely consume 80% of the extra gas, Birol said.

"Even though we have enough LNG import terminals, there may not be enough gas to import and therefore it will not be easy this coming winter for Europe," he said, noting this would likely push prices up again.

"It is not right to be relaxed, it is not right now to celebrate".

Even if there is a fresh push to develop additional gas fields, it will be years before they come online, he said.

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk on Sunday, Klaus Mueller, head of the German network agency which regulates gas and electricity markets, said he couldn't rule out possible gas shortages next winter, especially since Germany would now have to fill storage tanks without Russian pipeline gas.

"We can manage it but will have to really make a big effort," he said, adding that it's important not to let storage levels fall below the current 71.52%.

In the interview, Birol also warned countries that had decided to phase out nuclear energy to consider if the timing was appropriate, citing the temporary extension of Germany's last nuclear facilities until April as an example of making the right decision.

"We need all energy sources to help us for the next winter," he said.











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