The European Union has already managed to fill its gas stores above 80% to face the winter, but it would have to reach next March with gas reserves at least 40% to be able to face the cold season of 2023-2024, according to calculations by the European Commission.
“It will be necessary to take into account not only this winter, but also the following ones. It will be necessary to see in March. The percentage would have to be 40% to face the winter of the following year,” said the general director of Energy of the Community Executive, Mechthild Wörsdörfe, before the Industry Committee of the European Parliament.
In mid-March 2022, at the start of spring and just a month after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU gas reservoirs were on average 25% full, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, platform that represents gas companies before the European Union.
The countries of the European Union have committed to reaching November 1 with at least 80% gas in existing deposits in order to start the cold semester with relative ease. The reserves already reach 80.43%. They have also agreed to reduce their gas consumption by 15%, following the Commission’s recommendation.
“We have made our calculations with a cold winter scenario,” said Wörsdörfe, who pointed out that “there is a danger of supply cuts” by Russia, which this week announced that it will close the Nord Stream gas pipeline for three days that takes gas to Germany for maintenance and also that it will reduce the supply to French gas company Engie (EPA: ENGIE ).
This average reduction of 15%, which includes certain exceptions for island states or those with few interconnections with the rest of the community partners, such as Spain and Portugal, is made based on a cold winter scenario,” said the German Director of Energy of the Commission.
In the event that these voluntary savings were not sufficient, and after consulting with the Member States, the Commission could declare an alert and apply mandatory rationing.
In the cold semester in the northern hemisphere, from October to March, the EU burns 62% of the gas it consumes annually, according to Efe calculations based on Eurostat data for 2019, the last year not affected by the pandemic.
January is the month with the highest demand, with 50,240 million cubic meters in 2019 (50.2 bcm), while in June gas consumption falls to 21.4 bcm.
EMERGENCY MECHANISM and MARKET REFORM
The Director of Energy of the Commission avoided advancing how the “emergency mechanism” would work to intervene in the electricity market and avoid contagion from the price of gas to electricity.
“We are studying the possibility of price limits, studying what is possible. We have organized technical seminars. We are studying what happens with the price limits on distribution that the Member States already apply. We have to listen to the Member States,” he said. .
On the 9th, the energy ministers of the EU countries will meet in an extraordinary council in Brussels and on the 14th of this same month of September, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will address the European Parliament in the State of the Union debate.
“He will speak at length about energy,” Wörsdörfer anticipated.
That mechanism, according to community sources, should be ready in weeks. And later work will be done on a far-reaching reform of the electricity market.
“In the medium-long term we will study the design of our electricity market, which has worked well in recent years. We are going to optimize it, improve it. But this will take time (…). All options will be considered with openness because we are in a very different situation compared to the past,” said Wörsdörfe.