weekly news digest

The energy crisis in Europe

Key media stories and social conversations, executive overview
October 1-17, 2022

Healthcare industry and the energy crisis

Novartis’ plans on how to respond to energy shortages were one of the main topics in Blick’s interview with Novartis Switzerland country president Matthias Leuenberger. [Read the full interview here.]

Generic drug industry lobby group Medicines for Europe, which represents companies including Sandoz, Teva and others sent an open letter to European Union member states’ energy and health ministers in late September. In early October we still see coverage on this in key pharma trade media such as Generics Bulletin.

Germany’s Stern magazine published an interview with Andreas Gassen, Chairman of German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. Gassen commented on the possible deterioration in medical care due to practice closures as a result of the energy crisis.

Swiss daily Nau.ch covered hospitals’ warning that increasing electricity prices are going to badly affect their costs.

Key news from the energy sector

In an interview with Financial Times, Chevron’s CEO Mike Wirth accused western governments for worsening the energy crisis and supply shortages by “doubling down” on climate policies. He insisted that fossil fuel is “what runs the world today”. [Read the full interview here.]

France started a process to fully nationalise power group EDF, global newswires and European media reported. 

Financial Times commented that French President Macron would need to work with Italy’s Giorgia Meloni to dispose some of EDF’s Italian assets.

Sources like Reuters and Le Monde reported on the company decision to postpone the restart of five nuclear reactors due to workers’ strike.

Also in France, worker strikes affecting TotalEnergies increased fuel disrputions. French finance minister Bruno le Maire called on the company to negotiate with unions, France 24 reported. Over the weekend, the strikes were renewed on five sites.

In Gemany, energy supplier EnBW increased electicity prices drastically, media in the country and abroad reported.

Italian major Eni reported that Russian gas supplies to Italy have resumed. [More via ANSA here.]

In the UK, National Grid warned that winter power cuts for homes would be the worst-case scenario, as the BBC reported. Tabloid The Sun reported that UK ministers are negotiating with Norwegian major Equinor on a 20-year deal that would secure Britain’s energy needs.

International newswires and European media reported that BP is targeting the North Sea and U.S. shale basins to boost oil and gas supplies in the short term in response to the global energy crisis. More details here.

Hungary’s MVM and Gazprom agreed on a deferred payment, media in the country reported.

Energy crisis impact on business

The retail sector is responding to the increased costs of elecriticty with measures like switching off illuminated logos, keeping doors closed, and cut heating in shops, the Business Insider reported.

S&P Global Mobility has warned that, under a worst-case scenario, Europe’s energy crisis could cut its car production by close to 40%, or more than 1 million vehicles, per quarter through the end of 2023. Read more by the Irish Examiner here.

Policies aimed at capping energy costs were discussed by business leaders. Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe CEO Bernhard Osburg welcomed proposals in Germany to set a fixed gas price for industry as it “provides [them] with planning security for investments and upcoming tasks”. 

High energy costs are set to be “catastrophic” for the tourism sector, media in Germany and Italy reported. Die Zeit also highlighted the detrimental effect of high energy costs for restaurants. The effects of the energy crisis on sports or museums was also highlighted by key German media.

Energy crisis in politics and economy news

The European Union’s response to the energy crisis was covered by various key outlets across the continent.

BBC looked at the reasons why EU leaders can’t agree on a acommon gas price cap and cited Germany as one of the countries opposing the plan.

Brussels-based EurActiv reported that Germany and the Netherlands are calling for a joint EU gas purchasing to prepare for the coming winters.

UK tabloid Express reported that Poland and Germany were said to be pushing EU Comission President Ursula Von der Leyen to ask Norway and the US to “lower import prices for the EU”.

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom on Sunday threatened to halt natural-gas exports to the European Union if the bloc imposes a price cap on the fuel, international media reported

Most recently, Reuters reported that according to a new draft of conclusions for the October 20-21 EU summit, European Union leaders will explore a range of options for gas price caps.

Global and European media reported actively on Opec+ decision to cut oil production leading to an even more intense inflationary pressures.

The Financial Times reported that the International Energy Agency expressed concerns over the decision.

Last Sunday however, OPEC+ member states endorsed the steep production cut, Reuters reported.

JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon urged the US to pump more oil in response to OPEC cuts. [Read more on Dimon’s statements here.]

A summit between Germany and Spain focused on a possible new pipeline project in the Pyrenees. The story was covered by Deutsche WelleEuroNews and others.

After the Nord Stream pipelines leaks, media reported that Russia plans to redirect gas supplies to Europe via Turkey and make the country a gas hub. Business Insider and Handelsblatt were among the key outlets covering the news.

German magazine Der Spiegel together with Boston Consulting Group hosted a climate conference, focused on the impact of the energy crisis on the energy transition. The outlet published an article on Germany’s experience.

Germany’s price cap plans were met with mixed feelings.

Die Welt deemed the measure as necessary. 

Environmental organization Greenpeace voiced fears that the proposed gas price brake would not reduce energy consumption sufficiently, Berliner Zeitung reported. 

Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that the cap wouldn’t bring back pre-war prices.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Berlin to show European “solidarity”. Imposing a gas price brake at national level could lead to “distortions on the European continent” he warned in an interview for Les Echos.

In other news, climate experts forecasted a ‘cold snap’ in Europe around Christmas that would add to the energy crisis. Politico EU talked to Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

UN agency World Meteorological Organization released a report looking at how climate change is threatening energy security worldiwde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.