It had been apparent for weeks and now it's official: the gas storage facilities in Germany have more than reached the level target of 40 percent by February 1st. At 78.6 percent, they were almost twice as full as required by the Energy Industry Act on Wednesday morning. "We have far exceeded the legal filling level target. This is a great joint achievement by everyone who uses gas sparingly," said the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, the German Press Agency on Thursday.
A gas shortage this winter has become unlikely. "But we now have the task of refilling the storage facilities in the summer for the next winter without Russian pipeline gas," Müller continued. The new terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) would help here. "It is still important that we use gas sparingly."
The law obliges the gas storage operators to ensure that a filling level of at least 40 percent is reached in each facility by February 1st. The EU Commission also wants the member states to strive for a fill level of 55 percent across the EU on February 1, if the winter months are not colder than average. This was also fulfilled on Wednesday morning: EU-wide the fill level was 72.1 percent. The filling levels in Germany have been falling since January 9th. Before that, data had been stored for more than two weeks - which is not typical for the time of year.
Weather plays an important role
The storage facilities compensate for fluctuations in gas consumption and thus form a buffer system for the market. The filling levels usually decrease after the start of the heating period in autumn. On the morning of November 14, a fill level of 100 percent was recorded. In addition to the storage by gas traders that is usual in the summer, measures in the Gas Storage Act in particular have contributed to this. Large quantities of gas were stored by gas traders via tenders for so-called gas options. In addition, Trading Hub Europe (THE), the company responsible for the German market area, bought gas for storage itself.
The Association of Storage Operators was also pleased: "In order to achieve the filling level specification, the good filling of the gas storage before the winter was of crucial importance," said the Managing Director of the Energy Storage Initiative (INES), Sebastian Bleschke, the dpa. The mild temperatures also played an important role. In order to reduce the costs for refilling the storage facilities before the coming winter, further development of the instruments for gas supply security is needed. "THE should award the task of supplementary storage filling to market players within the framework of regular tenders instead of filling the gas storage facilities themselves," Bleschke continued.
It should be noted that gas continues to flow permanently through pipeline imports to Germany, according to the Federal Network Agency on Tuesday from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. Smaller amounts of natural gas are also produced in Germany itself. Natural gas now also flows into the German long-distance gas network via new LNG terminals on German coasts.
According to the network agency, gas consumption in the fourth calendar week was 8.6 percent below the average consumption for the years 2018 to 2021. Temperature-adjusted consumption was 14 percent below the reference value due to colder temperatures. Because it is below the savings target of 20 percent, the authority sees this value "in the critical range".