As bad as Europe’s energy shortage was in the wake of sanctions the EU imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, it is about to enter a crisis mode.
This week, Russian authorities completely shut down the Nord Stream pipeline indefinitely, allegedly for “leaks” in the system, though many believe it’s just President Vladimir Putin’s latest measure to punish his European neighbors for their sanctions.
The outage could take a few days, a few weeks, or months — though any disruption to Europe’s natural gas supplies is fatalistic at this point, as winter rapidly approaches.
A photo of the alleged oil leak that was posted online looks minuscule and gives more weight to theories that Putin is behind this latest move.
Gazprom has released a photo of the alleged “oil leak” that’s going to keep the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline closed for now. pic.twitter.com/91jH8P9qLi
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) September 2, 2022
The move is a “shocking development” and a massive blow to the European continent, which has spent the past 10-15 years moving away from reliable fossil fuels and nuclear power in lieu of unreliable and much more expensive “green” energy: Wind, solar, and hydrogen.
The pipeline shutdown comes as European nations were scrambling to top off natural gas storage centers ahead of winter and attempting to forecast what Putin may or many not do in the coming weeks as the ‘energy war’ continues.
That means that Europe will now be forced to rely even more on… well… Russian gas, in the form of much more expensive LNG resold by China. And after tumbling by more than 50% in the past few days, we fully expect European gas prices are about to go super parabolic and take out all time highs as soon as trading returns on Monday.
The news promptly sent spoos sliding back under 4000 as any hope Europe’s energy hyperinflation was finally over were just steamrolled by the Russian president.
What this will mean for European NatGas prices is anyone’s guess when the pols and experts wake up Monday morning while in the U.S., Americans celebrate labor by not working. But Goldman Sach’s Samantha Dart has offered a view, and it’s not good, via Zero Hedge:
We believe this will reignite market uncertainty regarding the region’s ability to manage storage through winter, driving a significant rally from Monday, potentially mimicking the August highs, should the issue at NS1 remain unresolved. However, we reiterate our view that even in a scenario where NS1 remains at zero, we estimate NW European gas markets can balance with Bal Summer TTF prices in a 215-230 EUR/MWh range (depending on how much the lower NS1 flows are offset by lower German re-exports of Russian gas), vs our 176 EUR TTF expectations under NS1 at a 20% flow.
Importantly, our price scenarios rely on our estimated demand elasticity of 1 mcm/d per 1.8 EUR move in prices. Hence, a potential decline in observed demand elasticity poses an upside risk to our price views. Specifically, should demand elasticity drop by half, for example, vs our original estimate, we estimate balance-of-summer TTF prices up to 290 EUR/MWh would be required to take storage to 90% full under a zero-flow NS1 scenario.
“A renewed rally of European gas prices on the back of today’s NS1 news will likely also heat up the debate around government intervention in the market, with most statements from public officials so far pointing towards an intervention in electricity markets,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News noted, this latest pipeline shutdown “marks a dramatic escalation in Europe’s energy crisis — and comes just as prices were easing. If the shutdown persists, it puts households, factories and economies at risk, weakening Europe’s hand as it backs Ukraine in the war against Russia.”
Said another way, “millions of virtue signalers will be cold, hungry and in the dark this winter but at least they will have a Ukraine flag in their Twitter bio,” Zero Hedge principle Tyler Durden quipped.