Last winter, there was a great deal of concern whether there will even be enough natural gas for everyone. Now the situation is better. The LNG terminal in Finland has started working, and the availability of gas in the region is unlikely to be an obstacle, believes the Minister responsible for industry.
“We're in the moment when one season ends and the other hasn't come yet. At this point, we are usually preparing for energy purchases. In our case, pumping gas into Inčukalns natural gas storage [..]. We are currently observing that the use of Inčukalns reserve storage is the largest in recent years,” said Climate and Energy Minister Raimonds Čudars (New Unity).
The next key factor in resource availability is price.
Following its rapid price increase last year, the price of natural gas is now declining. At the moment, however, there is no great illusion in the market that the price could fall further, and therefore active preparations have started for the next heating season, said Gunārs Valdmanis, executive director of the Latvian Association of Electric Engineers and Energy Builders.
“It has now stabilized at practically the same level as it was literally a few days before the war. And such short-term fluctuations, perhaps in a downward direction, can still be seen right in the spring, but we cannot count on the fact that it will continue,” Valdmanis said.
In Latvia, central heating companies are divided into three segments – those that use only natural gas, those that use natural gas and woodchips, or just woodchips. Like natural gas, the price of chips has now fallen.
“If everything is as we now think, and there will be no huge surprises, such as sudden attacks on energy infrastructure in Europe, or for some reason a lack of gas supplies for Europe and so on, then we could expect prices for chips to be lower in the following heating season than they were during this heating season,” said Latvian Wood Industry Federation's executive director Kristaps Klauss.
In the last two heating seasons, around €800 million has been paid to the public in aid measures, following an extreme increase in energy prices. If prices remain at the existing level – there might be no all-encompassing support next winter. If any, only individual groups of society will be targeted.
“We must be prepared to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable population groups at risk of energy poverty in the next heating season,” Čudars said.
If prices stay at the level of existing forecasts, most of society will have to count on similar expenses as this winter.