German storage facilities 90% full despite gas supply freeze

Despite the halt in gas deliveries from Russia at the end of August, German gas storage facilities are now more than 90% full. This is according to data from European storage operators published on the Internet on Monday evening. According to the data, storage facilities reached a 90.07% fill level last Sunday, 0.32 percentage points higher than the previous day. Level data is always reported with a delay.

A ministerial decree stipulates that German storage facilities must be at least 95% full by November 1, six weeks from now. The amount of gas stored at this level is roughly equivalent to national consumption in January and February 2022.

Storage facilities compensate for fluctuations in gas consumption and thus form a kind of buffer system for the gas market. They are usually well filled at the start of the heating season in the fall. Levels then decline until spring. During cold winter days, up to 60% of gas consumption in Germany is covered by German storage facilities.

The German government takes various measures to ensure that gas storage facilities are as full as possible at the start of the heating season. This should allow Germany to better cope in winter with the total loss of Russian supplies.

Germany currently receives natural gas via pipelines from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. At the beginning of the year, the first two landing terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are to be put into operation on the German North Sea coast.

According to preliminary data, gas storage facilities across the EU were on average 85.99% full on Sunday. Across the EU, the rule has been in place since the spring that storage facilities must be 80% full by November 1. This objective had already been achieved at the end of August. 18 Member States have underground gas storage facilities.

The filling level of Germany’s largest storage facility in Rehden, Lower Saxony, is currently just under 75%. Due to planned maintenance of this storage facility, there has been no injection or withdrawal since last Monday. The maintenance is scheduled to last until next Saturday.

According to German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, Germany has a chance to “get through the winter well” despite the lack of Russian gas. Lucky – the green politician added the word again on Monday in front of journalists in Lubmin. For that, he said, you would have to save a lot in Germany, and you would need “a bit of luck with the weather”. But at least, by his own admission, he wouldn’t have said that a few months ago.

According to a report by the capital’s studio ARD, German Economy Minister Habeck has questioned the gas tax decided by the government. At an internal Greens meeting last week, he reportedly said that if the gas utility Uniper were to be nationalised, the gas tax could be replaced by blanket state aid.

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James R. Rhodes