Natural gas is a fossil fuel which is extracted from the ground, and in 2020 accounted for 24% of all energy production.
What caused this shortage?
The process of extracting natural gas involves using a vertical drill to provide access to gas reserves under the surface. This process can be greatly hindered by cold weather conditions, causing complications with the drills normal functions.
the main issue extreme weather conditions pose, however, is its effect on the pipelines that distribute natural gas all around the world. Common issues include frost heave, loads on pipeline components due to snow and ice accumulation, and thermal stresses due to extreme cold temperatures.
But, cold weather occurs every year during winter, what makes this time around so much worse?
Other than the underlying issue of climate change, which sees a worsening of the frequency and threat of extreme weather events year on year, the main driver behind this crisis is down to the Pandemic.
Usually, the slump in gas production during the winter is made up for in the summer, yet the slump in demand due to the Pandemic meant fewer reserves were made. Once global demand shot back up during 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions were eased, energy companies were caught unprepared.
Could Russia be to blame?
Russia has been sending less gas to Europe, with exports last year dropping to 1/5 of its pre-pandemic levels.
Whilst it is rational to believe that Russia is making this move in order to refill its own gas storage, with Europe being 35% dependant on Russia for its natural gas The Kremlin is in an extremely advantageous position.
By slowly depriving the continent of its reliable pipeline streams, Russia gains negotiating power in its bid for Ukraine.
Indeed, this is likely the reason that Russia was able to annex Crimea in 2014 relatively unscathed.