Despite the observed disturbances in the gas market, the Council definitively adopted the arrangement to ensure that gas storage capacities in the EU are filled before winter and can be shared between Member States in a spirit of solidarity. This is an important step to strengthen the security of energy supplies to the European Union in the context of the war in Ukraine.
Thanks to the negotiations, which took place in less than two months, the Union now has a tool that requires each Member State to start the winter period with adequate gas storage, facilitating sharing between countries. I welcome this operational arrangement, which makes it possible to strengthen Europe’s energy resilience and tangible solidarity among Member States in the international context as we know it.
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition
The regulation stipulates that underground gas storage facilities in the territory of Member States must be filled to at least 80% of their capacity before the onset of winter 2022/2023 and to 90% before the start of subsequent winter periods. At a global level, the Union will seek to collectively fill 85% of the Union’s total underground gas storage capacity by 2022.
As gas storage capacities and national situations differ greatly, Member States may partially achieve their storage targets by counting their stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternative fuels, depending on the situation. In order to take into account the situation of Member States with very large storage capacities with regard to national gas consumption, the obligation to replenish underground stocks will be limited to 35% of the annual average gas consumption of Member States. last five years.
Some Member States do not have storage facilities on their territory, so the regulation ensures that these Member States store 15% of their annual national gas consumption in stockpiles located in other Member States and therefore have access to gas reserves stored in other Member States. This mechanism will make it possible to strengthen gas supply security while sharing the financial burden of filling the Union’s storage capacities.
The Regulation also provides for mandatory certification of operators of all underground gas storage sites by the authorities of the Member States concerned. Its certifications aim to avoid potential risks of external impact on critical storage infrastructures that could endanger the security of the Union’s energy supply or any other essential security interests. An accelerated certification procedure is planned for landfills with a capacity greater than 3.5 TWh and filled to levels below the Union average fill level in 2020 and 2021.
Storage capacity filling obligations will expire on December 31, 2025, while inventory operator certification obligations will continue after this date. The Regulation provides for a derogation to be granted to Cyprus, Malta and Ireland unless these countries are directly linked to the gas systems of other Member States.
Context and next steps
The European Commission presented a regulation proposal on 23 March 2022. This proposal replaces two existing regulations regarding gas supply security and access to natural gas transmission networks.
In its resolutions of 24 and 25 March 2022, the Council of Europe instructed the Council to examine the Commission’s proposals, taking into account and respecting the interests of Member States with substantial storage capacity, in order to strike a fair balance between Member States. The European Council, taking full account of national preparatory measures, decided that the rebuilding of gas stocks throughout the Union should begin as soon as possible.
The Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement during inter-institutional negotiations on 19 May. Parliament adopted the arrangement on 23 June. Its approval by the Council completes the procedure. The Regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union very soon and will enter into force the day following its publication.
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