While the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which connects Russia to Europe via the Baltic, has only been operating at 20% of its capacity for a few days, the Old Continent is getting into battle order to diversify its sources of supplies. A policy which is declined through the strategy of the large gas companies, until now very involved in the country of Vladimir Putin to exploit the hydrocarbons there. Including the French group Engie, which is taking advantage of growing activity, thanks in particular to soaring energy prices, to expand its portfolio and move away from Moscow.
In fact, the main gas supplier in France, of which the French State holds nearly 24%, was pleased this Friday, on the occasion of the presentation of its results, to have ” significantly reduced ” his ” financial and physical exposure to Russian gas “. While Russia still accounted for almost 20% of its supplies a few months ago, only a “ small residual volume of about 4% of gas purchased by Engie from Gazprom, said its managing director, Catherine MacGregor.
“It’s completely within the flexibility of our portfolios, so we’re not at all worried. […] The risk remains in an order of magnitude that we face regularly, due to changes in temperature, modification of economic activity, etc. “, she said during a telephone briefing.
Therefore, a complete disruption of deliveries in Europe would only have a limited impact on Engie, and customers would continue to be served, assured the business manager.
Consolidation of partnerships
It must be said that the company has been multiplying contracts for a few months, increasing its purchases from Norway, Algeria, the Netherlands and even the United States. A way of ” participate in the effort to diversify and secure supply “, we explain in its ranks, while the European States could miss 45 billion cubic meters of gas this winter, with consequences in chain on their economies.
What justify the signature of deals harmful for the climate, since Engie is strengthening in particular in American shale gas. Indeed, after having had to abandon in 2020, under pressure from the State shareholder and environmentalists, a mega-contract negotiated with NextDecade for the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the French group will finally buy 1.75 million tonnes of LNG per year, from the future Texas Rio Grande terminal from 2026 and for fifteen years, we learned in early May. A reversal already started at the end of March, since Engie had then extended a contract with another American group, Cheniere Energy, in order to buy more LNG from it than planned, and this for twenty years.
By consolidating its partnerships with several countries, the group was able to contract additional volumes, which “ will make it possible to replace Russian gas and to reach the storage levels required in the event of a total cut in Russian gas deliveries for winter 2023-2024.
As far as this winter is concerned, Engie is nevertheless counting in part on a ” decrease in demand “, Catherine MacGregor having moreover co-signed the famous tribune of call for emergency sobriety published in the JDD, alongside the CEOs of EDF and TotalEnergies. But here too, the company is confident: ” We have already observed a reduction in demand, which shows that there is a certain flexibility on the demand side and that if there were a scenario of interruption of Russian gas over the winter, we would be able to completely ‘absorb the few percent that we would have left to find “, assured Catherine MacGregor.
Solid results but many uncertainties
Overall, this diversification policy is based on solid financial results, driven by soaring hydrocarbon prices. Indeed, Engie generated a net profit of 5 billion euros in the first half of 2022, against 2.3 billion a year earlier, the company revealed on Friday. Especially since it had already generated comfortable profits in 2021, with operating income up by more than 40% compared to the previous year, again in part thanks to the surge in prices observed since. autumn.
However, given many uncertainties », both on the evolution of the markets and on the Russian position, Engie maintains its forecasts unchanged for the year. The group is thus still aiming for a net recurring result in 2022 of between 3.8 and 4.4 billion euros, even if this result would be inflated by 0.7 billion. if the market conditions and the price environment [au 30 juin 2022, ndlr] were to continue in the second semester “.