The EU Commission has announced that it will propose an emergency plan in mid-July, European states have already started preparing.
Annual maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – the single biggest conduit of Russian gas to Germany – started on Monday, but the German government and companies are worried that the shutdown might be extended because of the war in Ukraine.
Claudia Kemfert, an energy economist at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), said the government would be able to avoid shortages if it entered into gas supplier relationships with countries other than Russia, constantly filled storage facilities and encouraged the public to save gas.
“If the three conditions are met, I don’t see that we will actually have to face a gas shortage,”Kemfert said.
In the case of conventional natural gas, Germany’s alternative sources have so far mainly been the Netherlands and Norway. As far as liquefied natural gas (LNG) is concerned, Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck tried to establish new supply relationships during a visit to Qatar in the spring. Whether, when and how much more gas will actually come from the emirate remains to be seen.
The filling level of Germany’s gas storage facilities is rising slowly but steadily. It has currently reached around 65%. The German government has repeatedly appealed to consumers and the industry to save energy.
Meanwhile, the French government is preparing for the possibility of a total cutoff of Russian gas supplies, Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire said on July 10. To avoid shortages, the government has asked for the national gas storage facilities to be filled to “almost 100%” by the beginning of autumn.
According to a statement by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne during a press meeting on July 9, the French electricity provider EDF – that the State, holding already 84% of it, intends to renationalize completely – projects that ” production will increase [in autumn], as the 12 reactors (out of 56) currently shut down for corrosion go back on the grid”. However, in case there is a shortage of electricity, the French government is preparing a series of measures for the winter to prioritize private households and certain industries.
“Obviously, we are preserving private households and (…) we are not cutting factories or public transport,”French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said.
Romania ahead of European schedule, Croatian storage facilities less than half full, Slovenia launches emergency plan
An EU regulation requires mandatory minimum gas storage levels of 80% by 1 November 2022. Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said his country will be able to meet the 80% target ahead of time.
“At the moment, the country’s methane gas storage facilities are 47% full. We are ahead of the European schedule for the building of winter reserves, due to the fact that a large part of the methane gas extracted in Romania is stored. Today (Tuesday, July 12 – ed.), we reached a record and sent 70% of gas from domestic production to the national storage facilities,” Ciuca added.
Croatia announced that it will double the capacity of LNG on the island of Krk from 2.9 billion to 6.1 billion cubic meters in the current energy crisis. The government wants to position Croatia as a regional energy hub in Central Europe, so it could cover the energy demand of its neighbors Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary. Croatia also plans to double the capacity of JANAF’s Adriatic oil pipeline, which can already meet all of Hungary’s demand with the existing capacities. The country’s Okoli underground natural gas storage facility is currently 38% full and is expected to be 90% full by October 1.
The Slovenian energy agency launched phase 1 of the gas supply emergency plan. The agency monitors the gas supplies along the routes affecting the supply in Slovenia, including the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. As a precautionary measure, it urged its consumers to use natural gas with care. In a press release, the agency states that the country’s gas supplies to consumers are currently undisrupted. In the event of lower Russian gas flows, however, the agency warns of potential disruptions in the future.
More than half of the targeted storage levels reached in Spain and Italy
Although Spain is not one of the countries most dependent on Russia for energy, the government has announced that it will promote an increase in teleworking, encourage public transport and limit thermostats. Spain’s Vice President and Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera, has appealed for a “prudent use of energy” in the present heat wave.
With 72% of its storage capacity reached, Ribera said that Spain is “very well positioned” with regard to natural gas. It is estimated that the country owns 40% of Europe’s regasification capacity and 45% of its surface storage capacity, a share that could rise to 50% with the next expansion phase of the port of El Musel in the north of the country.
The Italian government is preparing a large educational campaign to teach people how to save gas and water. However, at the moment, the methane situation is not alarming. Snam, the main methane carrier in the country, has announced that stocks for the winter have already reached 64% of total storage capacity at 6.1 billion cubic meters. Targeted levels of 90% by the end of the year come within reach.
Editor’s note: In a previous version it was stated that Romania is a neighbouring country of Croatia. This article has been updated.
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