German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that targets set by the government for the filling of gas storage facilities had been reached ahead of schedule, staving off the worst fears of severe gas shortages this winter.
"The reservoirs are filling up quicker than planned," he told German magazine Der Spiegel according to a report published on Sunday.
The government target of reaching 85% storage capacity by October could be achieved by the beginning of September, according to Habeck's ministry.
Germany is currently trying to secure alternative sources of gas to prevent an acute shortage during the cold winter months, as it tries to wean itself off Russian fuel following the invasion of Ukraine.
Germany finds alternative sources
Storage levels have already reached around 82%, according to the European operators' group GIE. The next target is 95% by November 1, which at the current rate should also be met ahead of time.
However, Russia is planning to shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days from August 31. Gas flows from Russia have already been reduced to 20% of the pipeline's capacity for several weeks.
But while Russian gas accounted for 55% of Germany's consumption in 2021, this has been squashed down to just 9.5% this August. Gas imports from Norway and the Netherlands now make up the brunt of Germany's supply.
Germany is also expecting flows of liquified natural gas (LNG) from France once organizational and technical issues have been resolved.
Gas buffer in place
Germany's gas storage will allow supply companies to dip into it when necessary to meet demand, acting as a sort of buffer to the currently volatile market.
"Companies will then be able to withdraw gas from the storage facilities as planned over the winter to also supply industry and households," Habeck told Der Spiegel.
There had been fears — still not entirely extinguished — that a shortage of gas would force German industry to shut down and, in the worst-case scenario, see households have to suffer a cold winter without sufficient heating.
However, Habeck is still under pressure over the recently announced winter gas levy that will see households and businesses have to pay an extra €0.024 per kilowatt hour.
The levy will cover around 90% of the additional costs incurred by gas providers who are having to pay extra for fuel, but will see costs for users rise dramatically.
ab/fb (dpa, Reuters)
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