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ENTSOG: European storages must continue to inject gas in preparation for future high-demand situations

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) has assessed the capability of the European natural gas system to cope with normal or cold winter conditions and high-demand situations.

“The analysis presents a positive outlook, due to high storage levels and the flexibility provided by the European gas infrastructure,” commented Piotr Kuś, ENTSOG General Director. “Enhanced cooperation and additional LNG import capacities can efficiently reduce dependence on Russian supply. Given the uncertainty of the situation, gas TSOs have investigated possible capacity enhancements that could further optimise gas flow from West to East.”

Indeed, according to the Winter Supply Outlook 2022-23 and Winter Supply Review 2021-22, the gas storages significantly contribute to the security of gas supply. On 1 October 2022, the EU storage level (89 per cent) was one of the highest on record (985 terawatt-hours, TWh) and higher than the objective set for Member States to inject during summer 2022 a minimum of 80 per cent of their capacity of storages, or 35 per cent of their annual gas demand.

In the case of a normal winter, the gas system can ensure demand and supply adequacy. However, due to supply constraints, most Member States are exposed to a limited risk of demand curtailment. In case of Russian supply disruption, cooperation among all European countries can partially mitigate this risk. Furthermore, LNG imports could be increased by up to 100 billion cubic metres (bcm) over the winter, significantly higher than the maximum volumes ever observed in winter. In case of Russian supply disruption, this additional supply could reduce the risk of demand curtailment from 13 per cent down to 6 per cent across Europe during a cold winter.

However, ENTSOG also warned that an early and significant storage withdrawal could result in low storage levels at the end of the winter season. This will have a negative impact on the flexibility of the gas system – and may increase exposure to demand curtailment in the second half of the winter season, especially in case of cold and high-demand events. Therefore, it is important that all European storages continue to inject gas to the extent possible and that the European gas system continues to use imports to prepare for high-demand situations as well as to ensure the security of supply also in the following periods.

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