Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

EU legislates to ensure no gas shortages this winter

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, June 28th 2022 à 15:55 | Read 201 times

Storage capacity is fairly well distributed in the EU (map: European Commission)
Storage capacity is fairly well distributed in the EU (map: European Commission)
EU. On Monday 27 June 2022, the European Council adopted the regulation on gas storage. This decision concludes a process launched in March 2022 by the European Commission. The text was also approved by the Parliament on 23 June of the same year after inter-institutional negotiations with the Council on 19 May 2022. "The regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union shortly and will enter into force on the same day," a statement said.

To strengthen the security of energy supply in the face of the threat of shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, the EU is introducing a mechanism to better control gas storage capacity. It will ensure that these reservoirs are filled before the winter season, with the intention that their contents can be shared between Member States, "in a spirit of solidarity".

From now on, "underground gas storage facilities in the territory of the Member States must be filled to at least 80% of their capacity before the start of the winter of 2022/2023 and 90% before the start of the following winter periods. At the overall level, the Union will strive to collectively reach a level of 85% of the total capacity of underground gas storage in the Union in 2022," the European Council said. With one important clarification, "in order to take into account the situation of Member States with very large storage capacities in relation to their national gas consumption, the obligation to fill up underground stocks will be limited to a volume of 35% of the average annual gas consumption of the Member States over the last five years."

Underground gas storage facilities will have to be filled to at least 80% of their capacity (photo: CRE)
Underground gas storage facilities will have to be filled to at least 80% of their capacity (photo: CRE)

A mandatory certificate for storage operators

Due to the exceptional circumstances and the short deadlines, the storage targets can be met with liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternative fuels. Similarly, the EU decrees that some Member States without storage facilities on their territory will have to hold 15% of their annual national gas consumption in stocks located in other EU countries, while also having access to the reserves of these countries if needed.

To avoid any potential risk of external influence on the infrastructure, all operators of underground gas storage sites will have to be certified by the authorities of the Member States concerned. "An accelerated certification procedure is foreseen for storage sites with a capacity of more than 3.5 TWh that have been filled at levels below the EU average filling level in 2020 and 2021," the statement said.

"The obligations to fill storage capacity will expire on 31 December 2025, while the certification obligations of storage operators will continue beyond that date. The regulation provides for a derogation for Cyprus, Malta and Ireland as long as these countries are not directly interconnected with the gas system of other Member States," the European Council said.

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