EU hits 80% gas storage target early despite Russian cut offs

The EU has hit its target to fill gas storage to at least 80% “well ahead” of the November deadline, despite continued disruptions to the gas supply from Russia, EU energy chief Kadri Simson announced on Wednesday (31 August).

The EU set the storage target in May in response to Russian gas cut offs and the ongoing energy crisis. The aim was to reach at least 80% by 1 November 2022 and at least 90% by 1 November in the following few years to ensure there is enough gas to get through the winter.

“Member States and companies have done a great job. Let’s continue filling where the level is still lower and implement the EU demand reduction plan. This will help us get through winter safely,” Simson said Wednesday on Twitter.

Not all EU countries have underground storage. Of those that do, 10 have surpassed the 80% target set for November this year.

Storage in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden is above 80%, although the storage capacity varies dramatically between these countries.

Meanwhile, six countries – Austria, Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia – have met their intermediate target for 1 September and are on their way to reaching the 80% target.

The Netherlands, a key country for gas storage in Europe, is close to meeting the 80% storage goal and expects to do so in the next week. It also aims to go further and fill its storage to 90%.

And, despite the reduced gas supplies from Russia, the domestic storage tanks in Austria continued to be filled last week, the ministry said on Twitter.

The countries’ storage increased from 61.9% to 65.2% between 20 and 27 August, meaning it has already surpassed its intermediate target for 1 September is 60% and is on its way to its 1 October intermediate target of 70%.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s secretary of state for international communication and relations, Zoltan Kovacs, tweeted on Tuesday (30 August) that the country had surpassed its target.

Budapest has also signed a contract with Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, for around a maximum of 5.8 million cubic metres of extra gas per day on top of the contracted quantity already agreed.

“Hungary’s energy supply is safe,” Kovacs said.

However, Simson implied some countries are not doing so well in reaching the filling target. While overall EU storage levels are 80.17% full as of 31 August, Bulgaria and Latvia are below their intermediate target for 1 September.

Bulgaria is only just under its target, but Latvia is over 10 percentage points off where it should be by 1 September and over 25 percentage points off the 80% November target.

In order to ensure that the target is met and that the EU can get safely through this winter and next, the EU agreed on a demand reduction plan for gas consumption at the end of July.

The plan includes a target of reducing consumption by 15% between August 2022 and March 2023, which could become binding should the situation worsen.

[Contributions by Esther Snippe]


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