Europe’s energy crisis set to worsen after winter when gas reserves finish
Europe may face an even more acute energy crunch next year after draining its natural gas tanks to get through the cold of this winter, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.
The warning was made by Fatih Birol, executive director of the Paris-based IEA, as the EU looks for ways to ease the crisis, Reuters reported.
European countries have filled storage tanks to around 90% of their capacity after Russia cut gas supplies in response to Western sanctions imposed over its war with Ukraine.
"This winter is difficult but next winter may also be very difficult," Birol told journalists in Finland.
European governments have moved to cushion consumers from the impact of higher prices and on Wednesday, Germany said it will subsidise power bills next year by paying just under 13 billion euros ($12.8 billion) towards the usage fees charged by the four high-voltage transmission grid companies (TSOs).
The fees form part of electricity bills, accounting for around 10% of overall costs for retail customers and a third for industrial companies in sectors such as steel or chemicals.
Berlin's intervention stabilises the fees, which otherwise would have risen three-fold given runaway wholesale power prices and rising operational costs for the TSOs, Germany's economy minister Robert Habeck said.
Until the Ukraine war broke out in late February, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany was one of western Europe's main sources of gas.
Nord Stream 1 comprises two separate lines as does Nord Stream 2, which was filled with gas, but never allowed to deliver supplies to Europe as Germany suspended authorisation just before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Three of the four lines have been disabled by what the West and Russia say was sabotage causing huge leaks and the Danish authorities said the fourth was being depressurised on Tuesday.