Europe’s largest emergency gas stockpile hits historic low

Natural gas storage capacity in Germany has dropped below 60% for the first time in years, Sebastian Bleschke, executive director of the German association of underground gas storage operators INES, said.

He told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Thursday that the capacity is currently about 59%, which is a “historically low level” in comparison with previous years.

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“Since the real winter is yet to come, the relatively small reserves should certainly be handled with care,” Bleschke said, warning “If the withdrawal of gas from the storage facilities is the same as now, the occupancy rate [of storage facilities] will become very low in February.” 

According to Handelsblatt, Germany’s nationwide gas market trading hub has announced a special tender for the purchase of natural gas in order to prevent power outages in February. Applications for participation close on Friday. A special tender is a market mechanism for securing gas supplies. Given the current market situation, gas purchases will be “definitely a challenge,” said Bleschke.  

Germany has the largest natural gas storage capacity in the EU. Earlier, the European Commission proposed to set up a mechanism where EU countries could carry out joint voluntary purchases of natural gas to fill the underground storage facilities.

European energy prices continued to rise this week after Germany delayed the certification of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which could provide additional supplies of natural gas to the continent.

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