Germany approves law mandating full gas storage before winter

BERLIN, March 25 (Reuters) – The lower house of the Bundestag on Friday approved legislation requiring Germany’s private gas storage facilities to be full by the start of next winter, in a bid to avoid shortages in the event of a shutdown imports of Russian gas. .

The law requires facilities to be 65% full by August 1, 80% in October when the heating season and gas season for utilities and merchants begin, and 90% in November.

Storage levels, currently at 25%, must be at least 40% in February 2023.

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Germany’s gas market trading hub, Trading Hub Europe (THE), which is overseen by the country’s energy regulator, will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the thresholds by launching tenders for traders. Read more

The law allows THE to purchase gas through public tenders using public funds in an emergency.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government moved to reduce Germany’s exposure to Russian energy imports after President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24. kyiv and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war.

The law aligns with coordination at European Union level for member states to build up stocks and buy more gas from third countries. Read more

In the four weeks since the invasion, Germany has cut its gas imports from Russia to 40% from 55%, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Friday.

Energy prices in Europe hit record highs even before the invasion. European countries have accused the Kremlin of deliberately reducing gas volumes delivered through pipelines to historic lows. Russia denied this and said it had met contractual requirements.

In Germany, a third of the gas storage belongs to the Russian Gazprom (GAZP.MM), whose installations in Germany this winter had lower levels of gas stored than those operated by other companies.

In the event of a risk of shortage, the law allows the national energy cluster to use installations that are empty or below the planned filling levels to store its own gas purchases.

Traders have criticized the plans, saying they interfere with market and price signals.

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Reporting by Markus Wacket and Vera Eckert; Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska and Barbara Lewis

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