Worrying natural gas signs for the coming winter in Germany and Europe

By | May 1, 2023

At the end of the heating season, the natural gas storage facilities in Germany and Europe are quite full, however, this does not mean that there will be no problems in the coming winter, he estimates. Commerzbank. This is because austerity efforts have been relaxed. With cooler temperatures, prices could rise significantly again next winter, especially for liquids. natural gas (LNG) will become scarce in the global market due to increased demand from China and if more natural gas is also needed for electricity generation,”

Regarding the supply of natural gas, the filling level of German gas storages, for example, is still 30 percentage points above target. This means that the levels are significantly higher than they were at the same time in the previous two years. They are also somewhat above the average since 2010. However, today’s level is not particularly unusual. In contrast, since 2010, natural gas storage facilities have filled as well in spring for many years.

Continued high net imports in Germany

The main reason for the positive development this winter was the high level of imports (net). The volume of imported natural gas was significantly higher, despite the fact that the LNG terminals were not fully utilized. The contribution from the newly built LNG terminals was significantly less than what the German bank had assumed. As of this month, the third terminal in Brunsbüttel (after the Wilhelmshaven and Lubmin terminals) is also in normal operation. while the Terminal in Wilhelmshaven probably used a lot, there is still significant room for improvement in the other two terminals, especially the Lubmin terminal.

It is worrying that, facing the approaching winter, recently the consumption of natural gas has decreased significantly less compared to the previous year than in the first weeks of winter. Homes used more natural gas than a year ago, even though temperatures were actually somewhat warmer. So relative to the effect of temperature, this is actually quite a significant increase, while adjusted industrial consumption was up slightly as well. A longer-term view also shows that savings efforts have likely slowed significantly since the turn of the year. Adjusted for the effect of temperature, consumption between the beginning of October and the end of December was 16% lower than a year earlier, while since the beginning of the year it is only 2% lower.

Nuclear power could be replaced by renewables now

In this recent increase in natural gas consumption the closure of the last three nuclear power plants did not play a role. Instead, the loss of this power source has so far been mostly offset by more electricity from renewable sources. However, this is unlikely to be possible in the long term, as renewables are not suitable for baseload operation. Instead, more and more electricity will likely have to be generated from coal and, in some cases, natural gas.

Reduced conservation efforts and possible increase in the use of natural gas for production electric power they could cause problems next winter. On the plus side, there are still capacity reserves at the German and European LNG terminals and more terminals will be commissioned later this year. However, it is not yet clear whether the corresponding amounts of LNG will actually be available on the global market, partly because the recent rather weak demand from China is likely to pick up. Possibly natural gas will become scarce again and prices will rise significantly. However, the biggest uncertainty factor is the weather, as the winter of 2022/23 was quite mild. If next winter turns out to be similar to 2010/11, it could be ‘adjusted’ without additional savings, according to a scenario calculated by the Natural Gas Storage Operators Association INES.

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