Cuts in Natural Gas supplies from Russia are forcing European utilities to use reserves normally used in the peak winter season

Marica Micallef

On 17th June, Bloomberg reported that cuts in natural gas supplies from Russia are forcing European utilities to tap reserves normally used during the peak winter season.[1]

According to Bloomberg, one of the most recent indications that the energy crisis in the area is getting worse is that storage levels apparently dropped last week for the first time since mid-April, when traders usually start topping off facilities.  The fact that the Kremlin began the alleged “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 2, is assisting gas futures in reaching their greatest weekly gain.

In the past several weeks, Russia has increased minor cutbacks to other countries while cutting supplies to consumers in Italy, Germany, France, and Austria.  Moscow said that capacity restrictions on its Nord Stream link under the Baltic Sea were necessary due to technical problems, while Germany dubbed the restrictions “politically driven” and intended to drive up prices.

According to reports, the Russian cuts coincide with a large liquefied natural gas plant in the US going down, another essential source of supplies for Europe.  It implies that for months to come, less gasoline will be shipped across the Atlantic.

According to the most recent statistics from the Gas Infrastructure Operators of Europe (GIE), Europe’s storage facilities were roughly 52 percent filled as of June 14. Bloomberg noted that this is still close to the five-year norm.

On June 16, the Russian exporter Gazprom PJSC stated that it does not currently envisage a resolution to the Nord Stream problems.

Bloomberg claims that Gazprom could serve European clients using extra capacity on pipelines crossing Ukraine, but it hasn’t done so yet.  Next month, the link is apparently also going to be shut down for its yearly maintenance.

According to Bloomberg, who cited Wood Mackenzie Ltd, if the Nord Stream pipeline is completely shut down, the region won’t be able to meet the stockpile requirements set by the European Union before the start of the heating season in November.  By January, the region might have totally run out of supplies.

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