International Energy Agency chief calls on Europe to reduce natural gas consumption

JULY 19, 2022

Europe must cut its gas consumption significantly over the next few months to prepare for a long, hard winter, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol said.

Birol said the EU had made some progress in substituting Russian gas amid significant uncertainty about the sustainability of supplies from Russia. It is possible that Russia will completely stop the supply of natural gas to Europe, he added.

A heat wave in Europe has contributed to increased demand for gas from power plants. The supply of electricity in Europe is limited as high air temperatures reduce wind power generation, rising water temperatures reduce generation at nuclear power plants, and falling water levels in rivers disrupt the supply of coal to power plants.

Birol noted that over the next three months, the growth of natural gas reserves in Europe should be increased by 12 billion cubic feet, which corresponds to the volume of LNG supplies on 130 tankers.

He noted that the first step towards building sustainable levels of natural gas reserves before the start of winter is to reduce current natural gas consumption in Europe and send the surplus to storage. According to him, consumption has already declined somewhat on the back of very high natural gas prices, but even more significant reductions are needed. Birol said Europe needs to significantly reduce its natural gas consumption to brace for a tough winter.

Even if the EU succeeds in filling underground gas storage facilities to 90%, there remains an increased risk of supply problems in the event of a complete halt in pumping by Russia, Birol added.