Well ahead of the scheduled target date of November 1, the European Commission revealed on Friday that the natural gas reserves within the European Union have already reached 90% of their total capacity.
Gas storage levels have reached 1,024 TWh, or 90.12% of storage capacity, equivalent to just over 93 billion cubic meters of natural gas, a commission statement said.
“The EU energy market is in a much more stable position than it was this time last year,” European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said, recalling the summer of 2022 when Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine sent energy prices soaring.
She added that the EU is “well-prepared for winter,” but investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency could further strengthen the EU’s position.
The commission estimates that with 90% storage full, the EU will have enough gas to cover a third of its winter needs. However, the levels differed depending on the EU country. Spain has 99% of its capacity filled, while France has 83% and Latvia 77%. In Germany, it’s around 92%.
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine sparked an energy crisis in Europe, the EU took action to be better prepared for the winter when energy demand peaks.
This included a gas storage regulation that set a binding EU target of filling storage facilities to 90% by November 1 each year. EU member countries also committed to reducing gas consumption by 15% between April this year and the end of March 2024.
Simson cautioned that gas prices remained “sensitive.” The commission would continue to monitor the situation, she said.
Before Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022, Russia accounted for almost half of the EU’s natural gas imports. Although Russia’s gas is not subject to EU sanctions, its supplies to the EU have fallen below 10% as Moscow has turned off the taps.
The move initially sent energy prices soaring in mid-2022, but they fell sharply by the end of the year as Europe benefited from a mild winter and more gas was imported from the US and the Middle East.