Europe's energy crisis could last for several winters, Shell CEO warns

Aug. 29, 2022 1:17 PM ETShell plc (SHEL)UNG, FCG, USL, BOIL, KOLD, UGAZF, DGAZBy: Carl Surran, SA News Editor82 Comments

Gas burning with blue flames on the burner of a gas stove


Shell (NYSE:SHEL) CEO Ben van Beurden warned on Monday that Europe's natural gas shortages may persist for several winters with electricity rationing and sky-high power bills.

It is a "fantasy" to think that shortages caused by Russia's gas supply cuts can be resolved quickly, van Beurden told an energy conference in Norway. "We should confront the reality" that Europe may suffer "a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions through efficiency savings, through rationing, and through a very quick buildout of alternatives" such as gas imports and alternative energy sources.

Russia typically has supplied ~40% of the European Union's natural gas before the war in Ukraine, with countries including Germany among the most reliant, and the continent is especially nervous ahead of an unscheduled three-day shutdown starting Wednesday of the Nord Stream pipeline.

Problems and maintenance of EDF's nuclear fleet in France also have increased the strain on electricity markets.

ETFs: (UNG), (UGAZF), (DGAZ), (BOIL), (FCG), (KOLD), (USL)

On Monday, forward power prices in Germany rose above €1,000/MWh for the first time - ~20x higher than historic long term averages - before falling, as Economy Minister Robert Habeck said gas stockpiles are filling up faster than expected and likely will meet an October 1 target of 85% full by next month.

Benchmark Dutch front-month futures fell as much as 19%, partly reversing last week's nearly 40% surge.

Goldman Sachs analysts said European gas prices have "overshot fundamentals fueled by a combination of supply and demand concerns and exceptionally poor liquidity in the market. Northwest European gas demand has realized above our forecast, this has been offset by higher than expected supply, keeping storage builds in line with our expectations."

Energy markets have been concerned that Russia may not resume gas supplies after the Nord Stream maintenance is completed.

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