Germany’s economy minister reaffirmed on Monday that the country’s effort to get its natural gas storage tanks is going well, but that’s just enough for one winter.
“If everything goes well with gas savings and we are lucky with the weather, we have a chance to get through winter well,” said Robert Habeck, in a press conference according to media reports. But he also said that gas storage would likely be “empty” after winter.
Prices of European natural gas have come down from levels that spiked in August as the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline from Russia into Germany was rumored to, and then actually, shut down. European benchmark natural-gas futures for November delivery were trading around €202.45 per megawatt hour on Monday afternoon from €349 in late August.
The European Union and its member states have been scrambling to make up for gas shortages from Russia — accused of using natural resources as a weapon in its war against Ukraine. Moscow two weeks ago announced an indefinite shutdown of the pipeline and its supplies to Western Europe, citing technical issues.
“The question is when we get to the spring [of] 2023 with totally depleted, really, reserves, and gas is still not flowing,” said the CEO of Italian energy firm Enel SpA ENEL, +0.61%, Francesco Starace, earlier this month in an interview.
“Is Europe able to re-establish the storage, with all the backup of floating regasifiers and energy coming from other parts of the world? I think that’s going to be the big challenge.”
And as Habeck stated, Europe’s largest economy may be right back where it started with gas-building by spring.