Europe should avoid blackouts this winter unless there are more “surprises”, predicted Fatih Birol, chief executive of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The energy leader believed the continent will battle through this winter with some “economic and social bruises,” despite the challenging headwinds over the coming months.
Speaking at the International Energy Week in Singapore, he said: “Unless we will have an extremely cold and long winter, unless there will be any surprises in terms of what we have seen, for example Nord Stream pipeline explosion, Europe should go through this winter with some economic and social bruises.”
The European Union has managed to top up supplies above 90 per cent of capacity ahead of winter, according to the latest data from ASGI+.
It hopes this, combined with energy rationing measures and gas price caps, will be enough to ward off an energy crunch during the coldest months of the year.
However, the bloc has faced setbacks this winter such as a Russian supply squeeze on the Nord Stream pipeline, nuclear outages in France, and droughts across hydroelectric dams in Norway.
Meanwhile, the UK is struggling to get its Rough storage facility back online, and the National Grid has warned of worst-case scenarios of three-hour rolling blackouts in January next year.
IEA: We are in a ‘global energy crisis’
Despite the bullish sentiment towards supply shortages this winter, Birol did consider the tightening markets for oil and gas to be “the first truly global energy crisis.”
The IEA has warned in its energy outlooks that imports of liquefied natural gas imports to Europe amid the Ukraine crisis and a potential rebound in Chinese appetite for the fuel will tighten the market.
This the IEA expects only 20bn cubic meters of new LNG capacity will come to market next year.
He also slammed OPEC+’s decision to cut oil output by 2m barrels per day (bpd) of output.
Birol considered it a “risky” decision, with global oil demand growth of close to 2m bpd this year.
He said: “(It is) especially risky as several economies around the world are on the brink of a recession, if that we are talking about the global recession…I found this decision really unfortunate,” he said.
On a more optimistic note, Birol hoped the energy crisis could be a turning point for accelerating clean sources and for forming a sustainable and secured energy system.
He said: “Energy security is the number one driver (of the energy transition).”
The IEA has revised up the forecast of renewable power capacity growth in 2022 to a 20 per cent year-on-year increase from eight per cent previously, with close to 400GW of renewable capacity being added this year.