London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Energy crisis: European gas storage levels at record highs - and it suggests good news for supplies

Energy crisis: European gas storage levels at record highs - and it suggests good news for supplies

Record gas storage levels this year are unlikely to mean prices drop to levels seen before the pandemic and the Ukraine war, but energy security has improved after months when the UK worried about keeping the lights on.

Energy costs could come down as European gas storage facilities are expected to end the winter season at a record of more than 50% full.

Modelling done by energy consultancy Cornwall Insight suggests gas supplies are secure after concerns of shortages following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Fuller storage units mean less future demand for gas, which can bring down prices.

Storage facilities across Europe will end winter between 45% and 61% full - an average of 55% capacity - bypassing the previous end of winter record of 54% in 2020.

Following the start of the conflict in Ukraine, European countries raced to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, which pushed up prices and led to concerns about energy supplies in winter 2022 to 2023.

Having a greater amount of gas in storage means more is ready for winter 2023-2024 and less needs to be bought, leaving supplies more secure than in 2022.

It is a doubling from last year.

On 31 March 2022 just 26% of European storage facilities were filled, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.

There was concern that the lights could not be kept on amid gas shortages. In the UK the National Grid's Electricity System Operator had warned in October that planned three-hour power blackouts could be imposed in the event of gas supplies falling short of demand.

To reduce energy demand and cope with potential shortages, EU countries formally agreed a voluntary 10% cut in gross electricity consumption and a mandatory reduction of 5% during peak use hours.

But high gas storage levels this year do not mean prices will drop to lows seen at the end of previous high storage-level winters.

Despite the "considerably more positive" forecasts, the lead research analyst at Cornwall Insight said he was cautious about saying Europe is over the worst of the energy crisis.

"Any single factor can influence the pace and pattern of storage refill, and perhaps more pertinently, change the cost paid to achieve it," Dr Matthew Chadwick said.

"We are certainly not out of the woods yet."

Factors that could bring up energy costs include weather, US exports, Chinese demand and Russian supplies.

While a mild winter helped preserve gas stocks, a summer with heatwaves would bring energy demand for air-conditioning and fans.

Imports of US liquified natural gas in the second half of last year rose significantly as reliance on Russian gas waned. Going forward, however, the US is under domestic pressure to protect consumers from price rises, which could mean less exported to Europe.

Russian gas is still relied on by Europe and will continue to be needed.

The reopening of China, following nearly three years of lockdown restrictions, and the associated economic growth will impact energy markets, the Cornwall Insight report said, though the impact is uncertain.

For those looking to hear good news about bills, Dr Chadwick is not the barer.

"Whatever the outlook for storage levels, the need to compensate for Russian pipeline volumes with expensive and volatile liquified natural gas will keep gas bills higher," he said.

"This, at least for now, is the "new normal", and consumers and economies should prepare for energy costs to remain higher than before the pandemic, and the Ukraine war, for some time to come."

Households can expect prices to be "more muted" than last year, Dr Chadwick said, as the panic from the Ukraine war outbreak subsides.

"What may ease this year is the heightened level of understandable panic that led to hectic energy-buying practices during the autumn of 2022.

"As a result, we can probably expect prices to be much more muted than 2022, despite any uncertainties that may come into play."

Gas storage facilities in the UK include Rough, a facility reopened this year off the Yorkshire coast, and the Stublach onshore facility in Cheshire.


Related Articles

London Daily
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
Germany and France Oppose EU Luxury Car Restrictions to Russia
Plus-Sized Miss Alabama Sara Milliken Responds to Online Critics
Nigel Farage's Return Boosts Support for Reform UK Party
Labour Party to Pledge Recognition of Palestinian State in Election Manifesto
British Paratroopers Greeted by French Customs After D-Day Anniversary Airdrop
UK Statistics Watchdog Chief Urges Sunak to Clarify Labour Tax Claim Source
UK Conservatives Promise to Restore Child Benefit for Higher Earners