Europe’s “chilly winter” is fast becoming “another Millennium bug”, says Ross Clark in The Spectator – a “much-feared disaster that never transpires”. Just a few weeks after dire warnings of blackouts and energy rationing, wholesale gas prices have “plummeted” to below €100 per megawatt hour. That’s “less than a third of their peak in August”. Why? Consumers are being more careful; energy usage is 7% lower than normal. The mild weather is helping. All this is allowing Europe to stock up on liquified natural gas (LNG). There’s now so little storage space that around 50 LNG ships are “queuing off European coasts”. Importing LNG is less efficient than piping in gas, so prices are still double what they were. But “the winter is not likely to be as chilly as it was feared”.
Europe has “one man” to thank for all this, says Moritz Kochin Handelsblatt: Xi Jinping. The Chinese premier’s rigid zero-Covid policy has “stalled” his country’s economy, cratering demand for energy: China has imported 17 billion cubic metres less gas than last year. Reduced competition on the world market means lower prices for Europeans. The West shouldn’t get complacent – prices will rise again when Chinese demand recovers. But it’s a pleasing irony. China, one of Russia’s few powerful allies, is blunting Vladimir Putin’s “most important weapon in the economic war against the West”.