If Russian gas flows to Europe were interrupted now, Europe would have enough gas to last it through the end of this winter and the following summer without having to curtail demand, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said on Friday.
European gas storage levels will likely be within the five-year range by the end of this winter, thanks to mild weather, more arrivals of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and sustained imports from Norway, according to WoodMac.
If Russian flows continue, the European Union (EU) and the UK will end this winter’s heating season with 27 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in storage, which is a level within the five-year range.
Although energy exports are not part of the sanctions against Russia currently, there is a risk that Moscow could stop flows as a countermeasure to intensifying sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“If Russian flows stop in the middle of March, gas in store would be sufficient for the rest of this winter and summer, without demand curtailment,” said Kateryna Filippenko, principal analyst on Wood Mackenzie’s Europe gas and LNG team.
While this winter and the summer could be easier for Europe without Russian gas, some demand curtailments in the 2022-2023 winter will be inevitable, according to WoodMac’s Filippenko.
Higher natural gas imports from Norway and Algeria, more LNG, slowing the phase-out of coal, and delaying maintenance shutdowns on nuclear power plants could also free up some gas for the power generation sector, perhaps as much as 13 bcm until the end of October 2022, according to Wood Mackenzie.
The EU is overhauling its energy strategy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the European Commission unveiled last week a plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, starting with gas. The EU will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases, and replace gas in heating and power generation—all this can reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, the Commission says. In addition, the Commission will propose that by October 1, gas storage in the EU has to be filled up to at least 90%.