The CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanne, has issued a warning that the European Union (EU) may face gas supply constraints during the upcoming winter season. Speaking at the “Economic Meetings of Aix-en-Provence” forum on Sunday, Pouyanne explained that even if gas storage facilities in the region are at full capacity by the start of the heating season, it may not be enough to meet the demand during a cold winter.
Pouyanne emphasized that while this does not necessarily mean that the EU will run out of gas, the bloc would likely need to import additional supplies at higher prices. He stressed the unpredictability of prices in a market where everything depends on supply and demand.
In recent years, the EU has been striving to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, which used to make up nearly half of all gas imports. After the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and subsequent anti-Russia sanctions, European governments increased imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), particularly from the United States. According to Pouyanne, in 2022, the EU significantly increased its imports of American LNG, accounting for 64% of US LNG exports, more than double the previous year.
However, Pouyanne warned that the upcoming presidential elections in the US could potentially jeopardize the country’s LNG exports. He explained that there is a risk that the Republicans may decide to limit exports in order to control the rise in fuel prices in the domestic market.
Looking ahead, Pouyanne advised that it would be wise for European countries to continue saving energy in order to avoid shortages during the winter. He highlighted the achievements of the French in saving 15% of energy last year due to high prices, indicating that when prices are high, people tend to reduce consumption. Pouyanne stressed the importance of maintaining efforts to save energy to prevent future crises.
As the winter season approaches, it becomes crucial for the EU to carefully manage its gas supply and secure additional sources to fulfill the demand. The possibility of limitations on US LNG exports due to domestic concerns adds an element of uncertainty to the situation. It is essential for governments and energy companies to work together to ensure a sustainable and reliable gas supply throughout the winter.