The report shows progress: will gas storage tanks be full in the autumn?

Germany does not want to do without Russian gas and cannot do without it. Until she is even more blackmailed in the winter, she tries to fill the shops until Putin closes the tap. The monthly report will now show the progress the country is making.

Although this is unbearable for many people in view of the attack on Ukraine, natural gas continues to flow from Russia to Germany, covering more than 50 percent of its needs. According to the Federal Network Agency, deliveries are “at the usual level, with declining flows from Nord Stream 1 tracking market events and dealer behavior.” Whether this will remain the case is currently decided by Moscow alone, and the closer the winter approaches, the worse Germany would be affected by the shutdown.

The law passed at the end of March therefore stipulates that by the beginning of October, the tanks must be 80 percent full. It must be 90 percent in early November and at least 40 percent in February. The Science Media Center now provides a monthly overview of the progress made by operators and whether the goals set by the federal government can be achieved.

Germany’s largest store was empty

The gas storage at Rehden in Lower Saxony plays a special role in the report, as with a capacity of 3.9 billion cubic meters, it alone contains one-fifth the volume of gas stored in Germany or four percent in Europe. It is therefore particularly important to fill it by late autumn.

It takes time. The Russian state-owned company Gazprom, which owned the warehouse by the spring, practically emptied it completely. The federal network agency has been in charge since April, and its president, Klaus Müller, has announced that he will fill Rehden with “great energy and momentum.”

However, the repository can store a maximum of 0.34476 terawatt hours (TWh) per day. It was therefore not only a sufficient supply of gas, but also a timely filling of the tank at maximum speed. According to the report, this was to be done by the end of June at the latest in order to reach the November target. The gas has been flowing at almost maximum speed since the beginning of the month, and the level has risen from almost two to nine percent since then.

The Rehden repository fills up faster than necessary

If it continues without control, the storage space would be 100 percent full by the end of October. The 14-day maintenance work on Nord Stream 1, which currently flows two-thirds of Russia’s natural gas into Europe, is unlikely to change much since 11 July. According to the report, approximately 0.25 TWh per day is enough to reach the 90% target in Rehden by November.

The cache remains. If all other German warehouses were to be completely filled, Rehden would have to fill at least 46 percent by November 1, so that the total level of warehouses in Germany would be 90 percent. At the current rate, this would be the case in the second week of August.

A lot of memory is already full

In total, there are more than 40 gas storage facilities in Germany with a total capacity of 237.3 TWh. Not all were nearly as empty as Rehden in April. For example, Jemgum in Ostfriesland, with a maximum capacity of 8.13 TWh, had a low of almost 13 percent at the end of March and is now filled to around 37 percent.

As the ntv.de table shows, many storage facilities are already much fuller. 20.6 TWh of Germany’s second largest storage, the VGS Storage Hub (Bernburg, Bad Lauchstädt) in Saxony-Anhalt, is almost 78 percent full, the second EWE (18.3 TWh) is 71.4 percent full. A number of smaller sites up to 3 TWh have already reached 90 percent or more.

Goals are achievable

German stocks are currently about 55 percent full, and if growth continued in the last seven days, they would be full by mid-September. However, SMC does not consider this scenario likely. On the one hand, the upcoming maintenance work on Nord Stream 1 has slowed down, and on the other hand, the level has always slowed down in the summer months. However, it could be argued here that there has been no pressure law on gas storage in recent years.

If we nevertheless assume average growth for the years 2012 to 2021, the goal of filling storage facilities by at least 80 percent by the beginning of October would be achieved. At the beginning of November, however, they would be filled by only 86 percent.

However, the past has also shown that the tanks filled faster in years when they were heavily drained in the spring after harsh winters. Although the reasons for the empty levels were different, this year’s development could be similar. Under this scenario, German warehouses would have been filled by more than 90 percent in early October and 97 percent a month later.

EU storage is already more than half full

Europe is also making good progress overall, with around 51 percent of the EU’s storage facilities currently occupied, in addition to German stocks. Poland and Bulgaria, which Russia no longer supplies, are also said to have no problems.

At 27 percent, Bulgaria has virtually the same level of performance as the previous year. Poland stopped gas production at the beginning of the invasion and now even filled its reservoirs by almost 97 percent. Last year it was only in October.

None all clear

There is a question mark over the Ukrainian storage tanks, which hold around 324 TWh and are only 18 percent full. However, it is not clear to what extent Ukrainian storage facilities are used for domestic or export purposes and how high the gas demand was in the country in peacetime, writes the SMC.

“However, it is worth guarding Ukraine’s storage facilities and gas suppliers: if the war lasted until the winter and beyond, some experts believe, it may be necessary to strengthen natural gas supplies from the EU. Storage tanks in Germany would also be in demand.”

The Texas explosion disrupted European supplies

SMC emphasizes that all the scenarios presented are based on the fact that gas will continue to flow as before. “We don’t know if and when gas will stop coming from Russia,” Torsten Frank told the Wirtschaftswoche. He is the executive director of Trading Hub Europe (THE), which, as the so-called market area manager, is responsible for filling storage facilities.

Alternative supply may also be disrupted. A good example of this is the explosion at the Freeport liquefied natural gas plant in Texas last Wednesday. The reason is not yet clear. Freeport LNG is responsible for 18 percent of U.S. gas exports and, according to CNN, must shut down for at least three weeks due to the incident. Production is likely to fall by 8 percent by the end of July, the expert told the American broadcaster.

Europe will be the most affected region, writes CNN. According to the ICIS industrial information service, up to 80 percent of Freeport’s cargo went there in March. 45 percent of European liquefied natural gas imports came from the United States in April and May. After the incident became known, European natural gas futures rose 9 percent.

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