• Europe's next five to 10 winters will be "terrible" unless the EU caps gas prices, Belgium's energy minister said.
  • Supply cuts from Russia have sent gas prices to nearly double what they were last year in local currency.
  • The minister said those prices were no longer 'tenable' for Europe and a price cap needed to be placed now.

Europe could be in for tough winters for the next 10 years, Belgian's energy minister warned, emphasizing that the European Union needed to cap soaring natural gas prices immediately to avoid prolonged pain.

"The next five to 10 winters will be terrible if nothing is done," the nation's energy minister, Tinne Van der Straeten,  tweeted on Sunday, referring to supply shortages that have sent natural gas prices on a volatile upswing this year. 

Gas cuts from Russia have led European gas prices to about double from what they were last year. A US estimate pegs European gas prices to equal $67 per million British thermal units in August, compared to $9 per million BTUs in the US.

And they threaten to soar even higher, as Russia floats more supply cuts to come. Russia's Gazprom will begin a three-day shutdown of Europe's main gas line starting this Wednesday, and experts are concerned that Moscow will completely shut Europe off from its natural gas supplies by year-end in retaliation for EU sanctions fully taking effect. 

Great Britain's energy regulator, Ofgem, announced last week that it would raise its price cap on energy in October by 80% compared to this summer and 178% compared to winter last year. 

That could lead to annual energy bills for homes in the UK to soar to £5,405 next year, according to a Bloomberg report, although Van der Straeten said that an opposing price cap reduction from the EU could lower bills by 770 euros across the Europe.

"The European energy market is failing and urgently needs reform. This is no longer tenable for many families and companies," Van der Straeten added, stressing she believed action needed to be taken immediately.

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