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Gas prospects for the winter in Ukraine and Europe: estimations as of August 31

Gas supply to Europe and Ukraine. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke

Gas supply to Europe and Ukraine. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke

As Russia is waging war against Ukraine, the accumulation of gas reserves for the winter has become a pressing problem for many European countries. The reserves are being created in different ways and with different levels of success. The Page has summarized the information about the situation with natural gas in Ukraine and Europe by the end of summer 2022.

Ukrainian gas reserves in August 2022

By the end of August, Ukraine had accumulated 13 billion cubic meters of natural gas in its underground storages, said Sergiy Makogon, CEO of the Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine (GTSOU), in his interview with the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

By October 15, the reserves are predicted to be about 14.4 billion cubic meters. "Having these reserves, it’s realistic to pass a moderate winter, because gas consumption has significantly reduced," the CEO says.

At the same time, the military threat factor raises the risks for the stable passing of the heating season, therefore it would be reasonable to import additional volumes.

"As a GTS operator, we can assure you that transit routes to receive gas from Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are ready to import 54 million cubic meters per day. I hope our colleagues from Naftogaz will be able to use these capacities to purchase gas," said Makogon.

Besides imported gas, natural gas extracted in Ukraine is also supplied to the underground storage.

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, gas prices have been surging in Europe recently, regularly setting new historical records.

Gas prices in Europe in late August and the prospects of passing the winter for the Europeans

The European gas spot price fell after the EU leadership announced that the average level of reserves in the Union's storage facilities had reached 80%.

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According to ICE, the TTF spot price dropped to $2,580 per thousand cubic meters.

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President of the German Federal Network Agency Klaus Müller asserted that Germany is now better prepared for a gas cutoff because its gas storages have been filled to almost 85%, and supplies from other sources have also been secured.

"In winter, we’ll be able to take gas from the storages, we’re saving gas (and must keep doing it!), the LNG terminals are coming, and thanks to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway (and soon also France), gas is flowing," he wrote.

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Reuters points out that with gas storage 83.65% full, Germany is close to its 85% target set for October 1. However, the country’s government warned that it will be hard to reach 95% by November 1 if companies and households don’t reduce their gas consumption.

The EU has reached 80.17% of full storage overall, which is already higher than the target level of 80% set for October 1, which is the start of the heating season on the continent.

The EU now has 888 terawatt hours (TWh) of gas in storage, while before last winter, the stocks peaked at 858 TWh. This year, governments have set much higher targets for gas stocks than in previous years.

However, if the countries aren’t able to reduce their use of gas, European storage facilities will be empty by March, even under a scenario where Russia supplies some gas throughout the winter, but the weather is extremely cold. This is suggested based on the results obtained by the ICIS analytical company through simulation.

According to ICIS, to prevent a supply crisis in winter, the countries must reduce their gas consumption by 15% monthly as compared to the five-year average level. In this case, the storage facilities will be 45% full by the end of the winter if Russia keeps supplying gas, or 26% full if Russian supplies are cut off in October.

In late July, the EU countries agreed to reduce gas consumption by 15% this winter compared to the 2017–2021 average winter levels. According to ICIS, gas consumption in Europe was 11% lower in August than the average five-year level.

The use of gas in German industry dropped by 21% in July as compared to the 2018–2021 average level, but in the previous months, the reduction never exceeded 14%.

Unlike most European governments, Germany has already introduced some energy-saving requirements. They become effective in September and include the prohibition on gas heating of private swimming pools, reduced illumination on public monuments, and a ban on heated shops keeping their doors open all day.

Analysts point out that the import of liquified natural gas (LNG) helped Europe fill the storage quickly this year. However, in the absence of supplies from Russia in 2023, the global LNG market would not be able to satisfy Europe's demand. This supports the need to reduce gas consumption.

Context. The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was shut down completely until the morning of September 3. Before the shutdown, it supplied Germany with 33 million cubic meters of gas per day.

The GTSOU accepted a request from Gazprom for the transfer of 42.2 million cubic meters of gas on August 31. The volume was the same on August 30.

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