German gas storage is now more than 80% full, even with reduced deliveries to Russia

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s natural gas storage facilities are now more than 80% full, showing steady progress despite a drastic cut in deliveries from Russia amid the war in Ukraine.

Gas storage in Europe’s biggest economy reached 80.14% of capacity, according to industry figures released on Tuesday. The head of Germany’s grid regulator Klaus Mueller tweeted that storage is “regularly replenished” but warned that a planned three-day halt to deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia next week “could temporarily curb” the effort.

Natural gas is used to power industry, heat homes and offices, and generate electricity. Increasing the amount in reserve has been one of the main goals of the German government since Russia invaded Ukraine to avoid rationing industry as demand surges in the winter.

The country’s storage was around 56% full when Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom began cutting supplies through Nord Stream 1 in mid-June. He cited technical problems that German authorities dismissed as cover for a political power play.

In recent weeks, Nord Stream 1 has only been running at 20% capacity. Gazprom announced on Friday that the pipeline would be closed from August 31 to September 2 for what it said was “routine maintenance” at a compressor station.

Germany is one of many European countries to be affected by cuts in Russian natural gas supplies since the start of the war. Dwindling supplies, fears of further cuts and strong demand drove natural gas prices on Europe’s benchmark TTF index to record highs this month, stoking inflation and raising the prospect of a recession in Europe.

A month ago, the German government decided to tighten storage requirements. It introduced a requirement for storage to be 75% full by September 1 – a target that has already been exceeded – and raised the targets for October and November to 85% and 95%, respectively, from 80%. and 90%.

Co-CEO of the gas industry umbrella group Trading Hub Europe, Torsten Frank, warned in comments to the daily Rheinische Post that “we will be able to fill many installations to 95% by November, but not all”.

However, he said he did not expect a nationwide gas shortage, although he could not rule out regional shortages. He said he was “very confident that private households will not have to freeze this winter”.

Russia accounted for just over a third of Germany’s gas supplies before the supply cuts began. In addition to prioritizing storage, authorities are also trying to encourage energy savings.

James R. Rhodes