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August 30, 2022

European gas shortages “likely to last several winters”, says Shell chief

As Russia curbs gas supplies, many EU countries could face an energy crisis for a long time.

By Smruthi Nadig

As a result of Russian gas supply cuts, Europe may face several winters of gas shortages, according to Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden. 

Van Beurden also warned that Russia’s tightening grip on gas supplies to Europe might cause high power bills and electricity rationing this winter

Russian gas supply cuts since the invasion of Ukraine have driven European countries into an energy price crisis. 

Consumers will face a massive rise in energy bills and the highest inflation rates since the 1980s due to a spike in wholesale prices. 

Ben van Beurden, speaking at a press conference in Norway on Monday, said the situation could last several years. “It may well be that we will have a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions,” he said.

Van Beurden stated that solutions to the energy crisis must be found through “efficiency savings, rationing, and a very, very quick buildout of alternatives.”

The European Union has stated that it is planning immediate steps to reduce soaring power prices, exposing the limitations of the current electricity market design. European governments have already set aside $278bn in relief funds.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said on Monday that she would soon publicly announce a package of emergency measures. 

She said: “Skyrocketing electricity prices are now exposing, for different reasons, the limitations of our current electricity market design.

“[The market] was developed under completely different circumstances and for completely different purposes. It is no longer fit for purpose.

“That is why the Commission is now working on an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market. We need a new market model for electricity that really functions and brings us back into balance.”

While German gas storage is filling up faster than expected, the country could face winter without fuel if Moscow cuts off supplies. 

Wholesale gas prices dropped again on Monday after Germany’s economy minister predicted that the country’s storage would be 85% full next month. 

However, prices are still more than triple what they were at the start of 2022. 

Energy ministers in the EU have agreed to voluntarily reduce their natural gas consumption by 15% to ease the filling of gas reserves before winter

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