EU energy ministers agree new gas storage capacities rules

European Union energy ministers adopted on June 17 a regulation aiming to ensure that gas storage capacities in the EU are filled before the winter season and can be shared between member states in a spirit of solidarity, despite disruptions in the gas market, a statement by the Council of the EU said.

This is an important step in strengthening the security of the EU’s energy supply in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine, according to the statement.

The regulation provides that underground gas storage on member states’ territory must be filled to at least 80 per cent of their capacity before the winter of 2022/2023 and to 90 per cent before the following winter periods.

Overall, the EU will attempt collectively to fill 85 per cent of the total underground gas storage capacity in the EU in 2022.

As gas storage capacities and national situations vary greatly, depending on their situation, member states will be able to partially meet the storage target by counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternative fuels, the statement said.

To reflect the situation of member states with very large storage capacities compared to their domestic gas consumption, the filling obligation for underground stocks will be limited to a volume corresponding to 35 per cent of the average annual gas consumption of member states over the past five years.

Some member states do not have storage facilities on their territory, and so the regulation provides that they should store 15 per cent of their annual domestic gas consumption in stocks located in other member states and thus have access to gas reserves stored in other member states.

This mechanism will strengthen the security of their gas supply while also sharing the financial burden involved in filling the EU’s storage capacities, the statement said.

The regulation also provides for compulsory certification of all underground gas storage site operators by the authorities of the member states concerned. The aim of this certification is to avoid the potential risks of external influence on critical storage infrastructures, which could jeopardise the security of the EU’s energy supply and other essential security interests.

A fast-track certification procedure is to apply for storage sites with capacities above 3.5 TWh which were filled at levels below the EU average in 2020 and 2021.

Storage capacity filling obligations will come to an end on December 31 2025, but stock operator certification obligations will continue to apply beyond that date.

The regulation also provides for a derogation to be granted to Cyprus, Malta and Ireland as long as they are not directly interconnected with the gas system of other member states.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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