Gas storage, in particular Underground Gas Storage (UGS), is instrumental to security of supply as it provides an additional reserve in case of strong demand or supply disruptions. Typically, storage provides 25-30% of gas consumed in the EU during winter and it reduces the need to import additional gas and contributes to absorbing supply shocks.
New EU rules on gas storage
In 2021, the EU experienced a prolonged period of volatile and high energy prices, due to, among others, lower than usual storage filling levels. The increased geopolitical tensions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the beginning of 2022 further amplified uncertainties and consequently the need for well-filled gas storages for future winters.
In its Communication on security of supply and affordable energy prices (COM/2022/138), published on 23 March 2022 together with a proposal for a new regulation on gas storage (COM/2022/135), the Commission proposed measures to address the root causes of the problem in the gas market and ensure security of supply at reasonable prices for next winter and beyond. These include
- a minimum 80% gas storage level obligation by 1 November 2022
- storage level rising to 90% for the following years
- intermediary targets from February to October
Operators of storage sites should report the filling levels to national authorities and EU countries should monitor the filling levels on a monthly basis and report to the Commission.
Another important and new element is the burden sharing mechanism. Some EU countries have storages larger than their own national consumption, while others do not have any storage facilities. However, all EU countries benefit from the guaranteed filling levels, so the burden sharing mechanism makes sure that not only EU countries with storage facilities pay for the security of supply costs of the minimum filling target.
On 27 June 2022, the proposed measures were adopted in the Gas Storage Regulation (EU/2022/1032). Under the new legislation, gas storage facilities will be considered critical infrastructure and all storage operators in the EU will have to go through a new certification process to reduce the risks of outside interference. These rules will contribute to reducing security of supply risks and to support the EU's competitiveness by ensuring that storages are properly filled.
On 23 November, the Commission set out in an implementing regulation the intermediate gas storage filling targets that EU countries should meet in 2023 to reach the 90% gas storage target by 1 November 2023. The implementing regulation defines the intermediate targets for the 1st of February, May, July and September 2023 for EU countries with underground storage on their territory and connected to their market area. These targets are based on the proposals made by Member States in September 2022 based on the filling rates of the preceding 5 years, and the Commission’s assessment of the general security of supply situation in the Union and individual Member States.
Certification for storage system operators
Gas storage facilities are critical infrastructure to ensure security of supply. A new mandatory certification of all storage system operators will avoid potential risks resulting from third-country influence over critical storage infrastructure, meaning that non-certified operators will have to give up ownership or control of EU gas storage facilities. In addition, for a gas storage facility to close down its operations, it would need to have an authorisation from the national regulator.
Every gas storage system operator in European Union must be certified and the Commission provides its opinion on the certification procedure. These opinions are published by the Commission.
To incentivise the refilling of EU gas storage facilities, the Commission is proposing a 100% discount on capacity-based transmission tariffs at entry and exit points of storage facilities.
- Report: How to Avoid Gas Shortages in the European Union in 2023 – Analysis - IEA (December 2022)
- Implementing Regulation on intermediate gas storage filling targets (C(2022) 8593)
- Regulation (EU) 2022/1032 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 June 2022 amending Regulations (EU) 2017/1938 and (EC) No 715/2009 with regard to gas storage (PE/24/2022/INIT)
- Conclusions - European Council meeting(24 and 25 March 2022)
- Proposal for a Regulation on conditions for access to natural gas transmission networks (amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1938) and its annex
- Versailles Declaration (March 2022)
- Statement by President von der Leyen on ‘REPowerEU: outlook on EU gas supply in 2023' (12/12/2022)
- Press release - Commission welcomes swift adoption of new gas storage rules (27/6/2022)
- REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy (March 2022)
- Security of gas supply regulation (EU) 2017/1938
- Secure gas supplies