The recent surge in natural gas prices has hit Europe hard with a wakeup call that relying on imports of energy from belligerent countries is a risky business.
Hopefully, governments across the continent will reconsider their energy polices and allow the extraction of natural gas from Europe’s soil.
Many Americans know that natural gas prices were recently hovering around $5 a cubic foot up from around half that six months ago. While that’s hefty, just consider how much it costs in Europe: $15. Some analysts predict even higher prices by year end.
That’s going to make life very hard this coming winter when the cold weather arrives and people need to heat their homes across northern Europe in such places as Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia.
Finger Pointing Straight at Russia
But that’s just one problem. The other issue is that Russia is Europe’s main provider of energy, including natural gas. And recently the Kremlin has been accused of using its hold on natural gas supplies as a weapon in an economic war. In simple terms, Russia is accused of hurting the European Union by driving energy prices higher and so weakening the already somewhat fragile European bloc.
While the accusation is denied by Russia, the matter does highlight how vulnerable Europe is to the Kremlin turning off energy supplies.
That’s something that every European government knew or should have known for a long time.
The solution has been there for a long time also. Its rather simple: The EU, and the UK should allow energy companies to extract natural gas domestically using hydraulic fracturing. Yes there is an environmental impact to any carbon-based energy extraction. But that’s true whether the natural gas comes from Derbyshire in the UK, the North Sea off Scotland or all the way from Russia.
Cold Weather Could Mean Warmer Attitude to Drilling
While that view isn’t likely population with many of Europe’s leaders, it will likely become more appealing as the cold weather approaches this fall and winter. At that point newspaper headlines will scream out at the huge surge in heating bills and the peril of pensioners who risk freezing in their own homes.
When or if that happens, then its likely some European countries will be more forgiving of energy companies wanting to drill of gas domestically. And that’s where investors can likely benefit by investing in Europe’s large energy companies such as BP (BP), Royal Dutch Shell, Total (TOT) and Eni.
On this matter it is worth waiting to see how the energy crisis develops and how the local governments react. If the drilling regulations start easing then it could be time to jump into the energy patch.