Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), confirmed on Wednesday at a meeting of the Finnish Economic Council that gas stocks in Europe are 90 percent full. While that means there is plenty more to come next winter, the head of the International Energy Agency warned that next year could be even more challenging.
During the meeting, Birol criticized European countries for being too slow in responding to the crisis. “I would have preferred the European countries to respond to our recommendations much more flexibly and much faster,” he said. CNBC. In addition, the head of the International Energy Agency is referring to a ten-step plan drawn up by the organization in March, on how the European Union could reduce the import of Russian gas by more than a third within a year.
Birol said Europe currently had enough gas to weather a “normal winter” but that it would then run out. In March, according to the CEO of the International Energy Agency, gas stocks will be only 25-30 percent. “So the question is, how do we go from 25 or 30 percent to 80 to 90 percent for the next winter?”
Russian gas played an important role
According to Birol, the import of Russian natural gas this year still plays an important role in ensuring that there are sufficient stocks. But this is not the only factor that may disappear next year. Europe has also been able to buy surpluses from China this year, as domestic demand there has fallen seriously as a result of the economic recession that has plagued the country.
There is a good chance that next year it won’t be as easy as it seems. If the Chinese economy recovers and domestic demand increases, it will become difficult for Europe to import natural gas from the country. The influx of refugees from Russia is also uncertain. “So this winter is difficult, but next winter will be very difficult,” Birol told the meeting.
Meanwhile, Europe is frantically searching for two other sources. For example, the United States has already exported more LNG to the continent this year than in the whole of 2021. Norway, the second largest supplier of natural gas after Russia, is trying to provide more.
The EU also wants to import more natural gas from Azerbaijan. In July, an agreement was reached with the state to double the amount of natural gas it supplies. Meanwhile, Algeria is also making a contribution: it exports more and more natural gas to southern European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.
All this should ensure that Europe becomes less dependent on Russian fossil fuels. The European Union intends to become fully energy independent from Russia from 2027.
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