European Parliament, EU countries in deal on plans to restock gas reserves before winter

European Parliament and Council of the EU negotiators reached an agreement on May 19 on a new regulation setting mandatory minimum level of gas in storage facilities to 80 per cent by November 1 2022.

According to the deal, EU countries and operators should strive to reach 85 per cent.

The target will be 90 per cent for subsequent years to protect Europeans from possible supply shocks.

A statement by the European Parliament said that during negotiations, MEPs successfully pushed for more ambition on refilling targets and trajectories.

From 2023 onwards, member states will set up individual refilling trajectories with the Commission.

MEPs obtained agreement that the regulation highlights the need for EU countries to diversify gas supply sources and boost energy efficiency measures.

EU countries that do not have underground storage capacities will have to ensure that at least 15 per cent of their average consumption in the past five years is stored in another member state. Alternatively, they will have to develop a burden-sharing mechanism providing for financial support to meet the filling targets.

The European Commission will issue guidance on how to use a mechanism to jointly procure gas, to be activated voluntarily by two or more member states, by August 1 2022.

Under the regulation, gas storage capacities will become critical infrastructure. All storage operators will have to undergo new mandatory certification to avoid risks of outside interference.

MEPs pushed for the certification phase to be as short as possible. Member states will have to publish the draft certification decisions by November 2022.

Operators who fail to secure this certification will have to give up ownership or control of EU gas storage facilities.

Moreover, operators will not be able to close a gas storage facility without authorisation from the national regulator.

The European Commission, which proposed the minimum gas storage obligations in March this year against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine, welcomed the political agreement between the European Parliament and EU member states.

The new rules would ensure security of energy supply across the EU each winter, the Commission said in a May 19 statement.

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson represented the Commission in this week’s negotiations, and said this morning: “Filling the EU’s gas storage before the next winter is crucial for ensuring our security of supply.

“Today’s agreement on the Commission’s storage obligation proposal is therefore an important step towards being prepared for the next heating season, guaranteeing that our gas storage will be at least 80 per cent full,” Simson said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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