The European Parliament approved a plan to refill Europe’s strategic gas reserves more quickly before winter to ensure energy supplies are secure.
The new regulation, already agreed upon with EU ministers, sets a mandatory minimum level of gas in storage facilities at 80 per cent by 1 November 2022 but Member states and operators should strive to reach 85 per cent.
The target will be 90 per cent for subsequent years to protect Europeans from possible supply shocks. It also urges EU countries to diversify gas supply sources and boost energy efficiency measures.
Filling up gas reserves ahead of winter is crucial in the event of a disruption of gas supplies coming from Russia. This could cause a price shock on European gas markets that would hurt European households and businesses.
“The regulation is the answer to the current situation,” said EPP member Jerzy Buzek, who is leading the Parliament’s negotiating team. “Gazprom is using energy supply as a weapon (…) so we’ve got our protective shield,” he said adding that the EU can also formally start to jointly purchase natural gas.
EPP member Cristian Buşoi, rapporteur and chair of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee said that the new law encourages solidarity in the EU as it had to find a solution to ease the burden on countries with higher storage capacity.
Finally, countries with large storage capacities will be obliged to have at least 35 per cent of their consumption there. Countries that do not have a storage capacity will need to conclude agreements with the other Member states to store the necessary quantities of gas for them.
Under the regulation, gas storage facilities will become critical infrastructure. All storage operators will have to undergo new mandatory certification to avoid risks of outside interference. Operators who fail to secure this certification will have to give up ownership or control of EU gas storage facilities.
By August, the Commission will issue guidance on how EU countries can jointly procure gas, to be activated voluntarily by two or more Member states.