Energy supply: Gas reserves below critical mark

Status: 01.02.2022 4:44 p.m

The fill levels in German gas storage facilities have fallen below a critical level. Germany would therefore no longer be adequately prepared for an extended cold spell.

The filling level of Germany’s gas storage facilities has been falling continuously for weeks. According to data from the European association of gas infrastructure operators GIE (Gas Infrastructure Europe), the fill level on January 30 was only 36.88 percent of the total capacity. Two years ago, this figure was around 90 percent.

According to the Energy Storage Initiative (INES), the German industry association of storage companies, the filling levels have been well below the comparative values ​​since recording began in 2011 since the beginning of May 2021.

A week of extreme cold would be problematic

Based on a report by the Federal Ministry of Economics, the current fill level has fallen below a critical level. For example, by February 1st, a storage level of 40 percent would be required to cope with a seven-day extreme cold. In order to survive a 30-day cold spell without restricting gas consumption, the report stipulates a filling level of 50 percent. If there were actually a gas shortage, the supply to industrial consumers, especially gas-fired power plants, would be restricted.

EU criticizes Moscow

Experts have long pointed to a possible connection with the Ukraine conflict. The EU Commission also accuses the government in Moscow of not increasing the delivery volumes despite the increased demand for natural gas. In view of the record high gas prices, Russian companies should actually have an interest in increasing their delivery volumes. According to EU Deputy Commission President Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Commission is investigating whether the actions of the Russian state energy company Gazprom are in line with the market.

A good two-thirds of the gas imported into Germany comes from Russia. It is difficult to compensate for possibly missing quantities from other supplier countries. The Emirate of Qatar, for example, said today that it would not be able to cover Europe’s energy needs on its own in the event of a bottleneck as a result of the Ukraine crisis. The emirate is one of the world’s largest natural gas exporters.

According to INES, there are 47 underground storage facilities in Germany operated by around 25 companies. They serve as a buffer for the domestic gas market and are intended to even out fluctuations in gas consumption.

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