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Briefing: Who Can Supply the EU With Quick Gas?

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EU leaders are meeting at a summit in Brussels Friday to discuss the threat of a total supply cutoff of Russian gas and soaring energy prices.

Moscow's recent supply curtailments have pushed many EU countries to activate their gas supply emergency plans, including in Germany, Europe’s largest buyer of Russian gas.

Restricted Russian gas flows make it difficult to refill storage ahead of the high-demand winter season, making the EU susceptible to supply shortages and price spikes.

Energy Intelligence analyzes where the EU could get access to additional volumes of gas in the event of a cutoff.

Norway

The bulk of the extra piped gas will come from non-EU Norway, Europe’s second-largest supplier after Russia. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reported full-year 2022 output estimates at around 123.3 billion cubic meters, slightly over 8 Bcm compared to 2021. Grid operator Gassco expects Norwegian piped exports to Europe to be around 117 Bcm, almost 4 Bcm over last year’s exports.

Remaining volumes could be exported as LNG through Equinor's recently restarted 4.2 million ton per year Hammerfest LNG plant. Producers have taken measures to maximize gas exports, such as taking gas normally reinjected for oil recovery and exporting it instead. NPD preliminary data shows Norwegian gas output up 7.6% year on year during January-May to 50.76 Bcm.

UK

Estimates show production from non-EU UK could grow by as much as 5 Bcm this year to around 36 Bcm. Output is expected to peak at 37 Bcm in 2023. Most of the UK’s production is expected to be used to meet part of its own 74 Bcm demand. However, depending on regional pricing, the UK can send surplus volumes to Continental Europe through two pipelines — the BBL to the Netherlands and the IUK to Belgium.

Netherlands

Expectations that Groningen, once Europe’s largest onshore gas field, could provide extra volumes, have been dashed. The Dutch government says Groningen's output quota would remain at 4.5 Bcm in the 12 months to the end of September, down from 7.7 Bcm last year. Grid operator GTS has suggested the field can safely produce up to 7.6 Bcm. Groningen activity has been restricted to limit earthquakes linked to gas extraction. From October, Groningen wells will be left on standby for supply emergencies and will produce 2.8 billion cubic meters per year. The Dutch still expect to close the field completely in October 2023 or 2024. Total Dutch domestic gas production fell 15% in the first quarter to 5.32 Bcm, according to Statistics Netherlands.

Azerbaijan

Caspian gas headed for Europe this year is expected to run above the Trans Adriatic Pipeline’s 10 Bcm/yr nameplate capacity, with 8 Bcm/yr supplied to Italy, 1 Bcm/yr to Greece, 1 Bcm/yr to Bulgaria as well as some 0.5 Bcm/yr reserved for short-term bookings. This is already higher than the 8.1 Bcm transported through the line in 2021. Plans to double the pipe’s capacity to 20 Bcm/yr are in place but depend on various factors including long-term deals to support upstream developments on the Azeri side to provide the additional volumes.

Algeria

Italy seems the most likely beneficiary of Algeria’s plans to expand gas exports to the EU, with deals for an additional 3 Bcm/yr this year and up to 9 Bcm/yr more by 2024. An untimely geopolitical clash between Algeria and its other major European buyer Spain will cap any potential additional flows between the two countries. Spain’s Algerian gas and LNG imports have dropped almost 39% year on year in the January-May period to 4.3 Bcm — a likely casualty of the shuttering of the Maghreb-Europe pipe after a separate diplomatic spat with Morocco. This is despite Algerian assurances that any lower piped volumes would be compensated via LNG.

Other Domestic EU Output

Additional EU domestic gas production is not expected to provide much relief this year.

The Midia gas development, Romania’s first offshore project since 1989, started producing this month and is planned to supply 500 million cubic meters of gas domestically this year. Output will peak at 1 Bcm/yr during the following three years.

Denmark’s Tyra gas field is expected to restart in 2023 after a redevelopment project had it shut since 2019, producing 60 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (around 3.5 Bcm).

LNG Prospects

The bulk of extra spot LNG supplies to Europe will likely come from the US. The 10 million ton/yr Calcasieu Pass plant is preparing for a full-scale operational start in early 2023. Out of the 25 commissioning cargoes that have been lifted from the plant, 15 have been or are about to be delivered to Europe, according to commodity data firm Kpler.

Africa is another promising region. Eni’s 3.4 million ton/yr Coral South floating LNG (FLNG) project offshore Mozambique received first feed gas volumes earlier this month, with its first LNG cargo expected in the second half, potentially in October. However, it is uncertain that the cargoes will go to Europe due to the close proximity of the Asian markets to the project.

In Congo (Brazzaville), Eni's 2 million ton/yr FLNG project is expected to start in mid-2023, with its output expected to be marketed on a spot basis.

In Mauritania, Phase 1 of the BP-led 2.3 million ton/yr Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG is also set to produce its first cargo in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Topics:
Gas Supply, LNG Supply, Gas Demand, LNG Demand, Gas Pipelines, Offshore Oil and Gas, LNG Trade
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