Qatar: Europe Will Struggle To Secure Natural Gas For Next Winter

Europe faces an even bleaker energy crisis next winter after this coming winter depletes gas in storage, Saad Al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs of one of the world’s top LNG exporters, Qatar, has told the Financial Times.

This year, Europe is doing relatively well in filling gas storage sites. Overall in the EU, gas storage was 92.37% full as of October 17, with Germany’s storage at over 96% full, a target Europe’s biggest economy is expected to reach by November 1. Italy’s gas storage is 94% full, and France’s is at over 98%, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.

But the problem with gas supply will worsen during the winter of 2023/2024 in the absence of much of the Russian gas Europe was importing until recently, according to Al-Kaabi, who is also chief executive at state firm QatarEnergy.

“It’s really replenishing the reserves, or the storage, for next year that’s going to be the issue,” Al-Kaabi told FT.

Europe will face gas supply problems next year, the following year, and even in 2025, the official said.

With no Russian gas whatsoever, “then I think the problem is going to be huge and for a very long time,” Al-Kaabi added.

Europe is looking to lock in long-term supply deals for LNG with Qatar. The problem is that Qatar has most of its volumes already contracted under such deals with customers outside Europe, while new LNG export capacity out of Qatar would come only after 2025.

Various analysts and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have also warned that Europe’s energy crisis will extend beyond this winter.

Europe could be left with some gas in storage after this winter, but it will likely struggle to fill that storage ahead of winter 2023/2024, the IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol said earlier this month.

“All the signs point to markets remaining very tight well into 2023,” Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s Director of Energy Markets and Security, said in comments when the agency unveiled its quarterly Gas Market Report in early October.

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