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From transition to transformation – interview with Pavel Moučka, Managing Director and COO, Gas Storage CZ

On 1 February 2024, Pavel Moučka took up the position of Managing Director of Gas Storage CZ and Chief Operating Officer (COO) responsible for operations, investments and other related departments.

On the sidelines of Flame, which took place in Amsterdam on 24-25 April, we sat down with Mr Moučka to discuss the role of gas storage facilities. Especially from January 2025, at which point there exists a real possibility that Russian gas will stop flowing through Ukraine. We have also discussed the main trends in gas consumption in the Czech Republic and the possibility of using the gas infrastructure to store hydrogen. 

“The Czech Republic has always been one of the transit countries transporting Russian gas to western Europe and nowadays transit volumes are basically zero,” recalls Mr Moučka. Indeed, as announced by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala at the beginning of 2023, the Czech Republic was able to reduce its Russian gas dependency from 97 per cent to 3-4 per cent in the first eight months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This, of course, has implications for the gas storage business in the long term. The demand for our services has increased. We already have many customers from the Czech Republic and from abroad and gas will be used more and more in sectors like district heating and as an alternative source of energy to coal,” Mr Moučka explains.

Gas Storage CZ
Photo courtesy of Gas Storage CZ.

Currently, the company operates in the Czech Republic a total of 6 underground gas storages on the virtual storage point principle with a total working volume of 2.7 billion cubic metres (bcm). In other words, it is approximately a two-month gas consumption in the Czech Republic during winter time.

A consumption that grew over the past weeks after unexpected cold weather which urged Gas Storage CZ to return to a withdrawal regime, with the daily withdrawal of around 9 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas. However, despite the current weather fluctuations, storage facilities are still 58 per cent full, a record filling level at the end of the withdrawal season, which reflects the mild winter and the state of international commodity markets.

Gas Storage CZ
Photo courtesy of Gas Storage CZ.

Of course, when talking about gas storage, nowadays companies are also looking at the possibility of using the same infrastructure to store hydrogen.

“We run an internal H2 Readiness project assessing our current sites for possible storage of blend of natural gas with hydrogen which we expect in lower percentage in near future,” Pavel Moučka says. “On this assessment, we cooperate with universities and other agencies. As a part of the project, we are also investigating if a certain geological structure is possibly suitable to store a higher percentage of blend and gradually up to 100 per cent hydrogen, if feasible.”

“The testing ground is a structure close to one of our sites but not currently used as gas storage,” he concludes. “We are currently preparing tests to verify the compatibility of the structure.”

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