Germany’s stocks will not be filled this winter, shortages are to be expected in some regions

Germany's stocks will not be filled this winter, shortages are to be expected in some regions

It’s a race against the clock that seemed well underway: last weekend, Germany reached its first underground gas storage target two weeks ahead of schedule, with a 75% filling of national reserves. (against 10 points less at the beginning of July). The goal: to puncture the precious fuel there during cold periods, in order to do without Russian gas as much as possible this winter. And yet, despite this initial success, the final target, that is to say to reach a rate of 95% by November 1, now seems out of reach.

In all of our scenarios, we will fail to [l’]reach “said the head of the German energy regulator, Klaus Müller, on Thursday. “ We will not be able to do this because some storage sites have started from a very low filling level “, he added. As for the intermediate objective of 85% by October, it is, according to him, ” not impossible, but very ambitious ».

In fact, Berlin can no longer count on its main source of supply: last month, Russia unilaterally reduced the flows passing through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to only 20% of its capacity. However, the more Vladimir Putin decides to cut the valves, the less Germany can accumulate gas reserves before winter allowing it to do without its Russian neighbor in a few months. A vicious circle which reinforces the prospect of a shortage across the Rhine, while a 95% filling of its stocks would allow it to hold out for around two and a half months in the event of a total breakdown in Russian deliveries, according to the regulator.

Europe: the threat of gas rationing this winter is growing

20% reduction in demand

Under these conditions, Germany is trying to reduce its consumption by at least 15 to 20%, despite cascading consequences for industry. ” If we don’t reach [cet] objective, there is a serious risk that we run out of gas “warned Klaus Müller in the FinancialTimes last Sunday. However, so far, demand for the famous fossil fuel has only fallen by around 5 to 8% compared to last year, even as Russia has fallen by almost 80% in deliveries. To speed up the pace, the German government announced an energy security plan at the end of July, including mandatory gas-saving measures for companies.

We need to save a lot of gas for at least another year. To put it clearly: there will be at least two stressful winters,” Klaus Müller added on Thursday.

In addition, Berlin relies heavily on its neighbors to avoid any disruption of supply: next week a text adopted on July 26 by the European Union will come into force, which provides that each country everything possible to reduce, between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years, in order to send its gas to the countries most in difficulty. In the name of European solidarity, the French government is also preparing to deliver part of its stocks to Germany, a great first.

Inevitable rationing?

That’s not all: in addition to the reactivation of its coal-fired power stations and the possible extension of its last nuclear reactors, Berlin has already urgently started the construction of two floating LNG terminals capable of regasify liquefied natural gas (LNG) transported by ships from all over the world, and pleads for the creation of a gas pipeline which would connect it to Spain via France, in order to allow the Iberian Peninsula to supply it easily.

But despite all these efforts, the game seems far from won. According to the research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie, if Russia were to completely halt its deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, “ Europe will run out of gas next winter and rationing would be same “ inevitable regardless of its initiatives in terms of supply diversification and stock replenishment. In Germany, shortages are thus to be expected in certain regions, despite the deleterious impacts on the economy, warned Klaus Müller.

Europe: the threat of gas rationing this winter is growing