Gas storage for European winter: MEPs, ministers reach provisional agreement

European gas storage policy will allow member states to share storage of gas for upcoming winter due to unreliable supply because of war in Ukraine

The European Parliament and the EU’s Council have provisionally agreed to ensure storage capacities for gas in the EU are filled before the winter season, due to war in Ukraine.

The proposed regulation ensures the gas storage can be shared between member states in a spirit of solidarity.

Underground gas storage in member states can be filked up to at least 80% of their capacity before the winter of 2022/2023 and to 90% before the following winter periods. The EU will attempt collectively to fill 85% of the underground gas storage capacity in 2022.

“This key legislative proposal is not only about new and much-needed legal provisions - it is first and foremost about securing gas supplies for next winter,” said MEP Jerzy Buzek (EPP, PL), who led the European Parliament negotiation team.

“This is what our citizens – households, SMEs and industry – expect today from the European Union. We have to live up to these expectations and we are ready to start negotiations immediately. I believe the Council shares this approach.”

The filling obligation will be limited to a volume of 35% of the annual gas consumption of member states over the past five years, in order to avoid a disproportionate impact on certain member states with significant storage capacity.

Member states could partially meet the 90% target by counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternative fuels stored at the facilities.

Malta does not have storage facilities and is not required to participate. The same applies for Cyprus and Ireland, since they are not directly interconnected to the European gas grid.

But the ultimate aim of the Commission is to ramp up gas storage due to unreliable gas supply from Russia, combined with a particularly low level of gas storage during this winter when compared to previous years.

Member states without storage facilities would have access to gas storage reserves in other member states.

In order to share the financial burden of filling obligations, member states without underground storage facilities will use storage capacity corresponding to 15% of their annual gas consumption over the past five years. As an alternative, member states may organise the establishment of an alternative burden-sharing mechanism.

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