Parliament agrees law to fill German gas storage 90% before winter
Clean Energy Wire
Germany’s federal parliament (Bundestag) has passed legislation forcing gas infrastructure operators to fill storage facilities to certain levels throughout the year in order to avoid shortages during the winter months. Germany’s gas stores are the largest in middle and western Europe and can sustain the country for extended periods of time. But last winter (2021/2022) storage levels were at historic lows, contributing to price hikes. According to the new legislation, gas storage filling will continue to happen in a market-based way but, if necessary, tenders for gas options will be used to incentivise higher volumes. The law obliges Trading Hub Europe GmbH, established as a cooperation of all gas pipeline operators in Germany, to gradually fill the gas storage facilities to 80 percent on 1 October, 90 percent on 1 November and 40 percent on 1 February. Pending the approval from the chamber of state governments (Bundesrat) in the beginning of April, the law is to come into force on 1 May 2022. The proposed rules are in line with plans by the European Union for mandatory gas storage levels, which the European Commission had presented last week (23 March).
At the end of last year and in the lead-up to the Ukraine war, German gas storage facilities did not get filled with Russian gas to the usual levels which, at the time, was attributed mainly to increased demand after the pandemic and high prices. Storage users have also been under suspicion of deliberately postponing filling storages to increase profits. Several large gas storages in Germany are operated by Gazprom-subsidiaries; the European Commission has proposed to force these firms to sell their shares in gas infrastructure to European stakeholders.