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Energy

Gas storages

Ensuring shared storage capacities in the EU is crucial to guarantee security of supply.

Gas storages, in particular Underground Gas Storages (UGS), are instrumental to security of supply as they provide additional supply in case of strong demand or supply disruptions. Typically, storage supplies 25-30% of gas consumed in the winter season. During the heating season in winter, storage reduces the need to import additional gas and contributes to absorbing supply shocks.

Legislative proposal for storage obligations

In 2021, the EU has experienced a prolonged period of volatile and high energy prices, due to, among others, lower than usual storage filling levels. Moreover, 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, published on 23 March 2022, 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, rising to 90% for the following years, with intermediary targets from February to October. Operators of storage sites should report the filling levels to national authorities. EU countries should monitor the filling levels on a monthly basis and report to the Commission.

The purpose of the proposal is to reduce security of supply risks and to support the EU’s competitiveness by ensuring that storages are properly filled.

An important element in this new proposal 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.

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.

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.

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