German gas storage more than 90% full despite budget cuts in Russia

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BERLIN (TNZT) — Germany’s natural gas storage facilities are now more than 90% full in preparation for the winter heating season and are steadily increasing despite Russia cutting off supplies via a major pipeline, authorities said.

The head of the national grid regulator, Klaus Mueller, tweeted late Monday that gas storage “has reached another milestone” and that the stored gas will help manage potential gas emergencies and flow back to the market.

He warned that “nevertheless, we must continue to conserve gas.” The fuel heats houses, powers factories and generates electricity.

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The government tightened storage requirements in July after Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom began cutting supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, contributing to rising gas prices.

Germany has demanded that storage be 75% full by September 1, and has increased the targets for October and November from 85% and 95%, respectively, from 80% and 90%. The November target is roughly equivalent to the amount of gas Germany used in January and February this year, when temperatures were relatively mild.

Russia has stopped supplying gas through Nord Stream 1 since late August as tensions mount over the war in Ukraine. The country began cutting gas supply through the pipeline in mid-June, citing alleged technical problems. German officials rejected that explanation as a cover for a political decision to push prices up and create uncertainty.

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Before the reductions began, Russia accounted for just over a third of Germany’s gas supplies.

The cuts forced the government to put together a rescue package for major gas importer Uniper, which had to buy gas at much higher prices in the market to meet its supply contracts. The company said last week it was investigating the possibility of the government taking a majority stake as losses mount.

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The outcome of those talks remains unclear, as does the future of a new tax on natural gas to help energy importers that the government announced along with the original bailout.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany is well-positioned to get through the winter with enough energy, pointing to, among other things, new terminals for liquefied natural gas that are expected to open in the coming months.

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