Western Europe May Not Weather the Winter Without Russian Gas
© AP Photo / Dmitry LovetskyIn this April 9, 2010 file photo, a Russian construction worker speaks on a mobile phone in Portovaya Bay some 170 km (106 miles) northwest of St. Petersburg, Russia, during a ceremony marking the start of construction for the Nord Stream pipeline.
© AP Photo / Dmitry Lovetsky
According to analysis from Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consultancy firm, the only way for Western Europe to weather a cold winter will be through an additional influx of Russian gas.
Western Europe finds itself in a precarious position. Over the summer, the region experienced record heat and wasn’t able to generate as much energy from wind plants. To power the region, energy suppliers had to dip into their stores of gas.
Gazprom, a Russian state-owned gas company, supplies over 40% of the natural gas in the European Union. The company has been non-committal over increasing supply, and may hold the keys to keeping Europe warm over the winter months.
Wood Mackenzie’s report does indicate that if Europe faces a relatively normal winter, they won’t hit zero on their gas reserves, but it would still likely cause prices to skyrocket. However, a worst-case scenario could see Western Europe out in the cold.
In that situation, a cold winter in both Western Europe, Russia, and Asia could lead to a shortage of gas. With Gazprom favoring the Russian market in that instance, it’ll leave the rest of Europe and Asia to fight over the leftovers. Meteorologists believe this could be yet another weak La Nina year, which has been linked to cooler winters in Europe.
European leaders have been negotiating with Russia and Gazprom to increase the supply of gas to avoid a situation where an energy disaster is a mere cubic meter away. If Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline through the Baltic sea that goes from Russia to Germany, is operational for this winter, it could help Europe overcome a worst-case scenario. For Western Europe, the winter of 2021-22 could come down to how much gas flows from the east.