France had filled 90% of its gas stocks for the winter by Thursday morning, according to the European platform Agregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI), well on its way to meeting its targets to face potential energy shortages this winter related to the war in Ukraine.
The government’s goal is to fill the country’s natural gas storage capacity to 100% by November, while the tap of Russian exports to Western countries that support Ukraine is gradually drying up, and gas prices in Europe are breaking records.
The price was evolving at more than 300 euros per megawatt hour Wednesday morning, at levels not seen since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The Russian giant Gazprom has since the beginning of the war in Ukraine stopped gas deliveries to several European countries and in June drastically reduced its deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline.
In France, in detail, the stocks of Teréga, one of the two managers of the country’s gas transmission system, were at 91.21% of their capacity, while those of Storengy, a subsidiary of Engie, were at 89.67%, according to the AGSI website.
Germany’s strategic stockpiles are 81.07% full, according to the AGSI website. Apart from France, only four European countries out of 27 are at over 90%: Portugal (100%), Poland (99.56%), Sweden (90.8%) and Denmark (93.76%).
All countries have filled their tanks to more than 50%, with Latvia (55%) and Bulgaria (59%) doing the worst.
France, which claims to be in a more “favourable” situation than its neighbors, is counting on gas stocks being filled to capacity and on a new LNG terminal next year to receive liquefied gas imports from countries other than Russia.
The Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, had indicated during the summer that the government’s objective was to fill the stocks to 100% “before November 1”, while operators are usually obliged to fill these reserves to 85% by that date.
The country now seems to be well ahead of this strategic objective. Especially since “it is on the issue of Russian gas that will play a part of growth in Europe in the coming months” and the risk of recession, said Wednesday the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire.
“Everything will depend on Vladimir Putin’s decisions on gas,” he said on France 5, “If he ever decides to cut off gas for the EU and the eurozone, we estimate the impact on growth, for France alone, to half a point of GDP, and probably more for other economies more dependent on Russian gas than us.
With the sword of Damocles of the shortage on the months to come, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron called on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers of re-entry to the “unity” in the face of the end of “abundance”. With “energy sobriety” as the watchword, also justified by the ongoing energy transition to address climate change.
Even if the gas reserves are 100% full, it will also be necessary to reduce consumption to get through the winter, both of gas and electricity.
The ban on open doors in heated or air-conditioned stores, and that of illuminated advertisements at night (except in railway stations and airports) is expected before “the end of the summer”, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. A bill to develop renewable energies is also in preparation.
The Brussels plan – which has yet to be validated by the member states – calls for each of the 27 countries of the European Union to reduce its gas consumption by at least 15% between August 2022 and March 2023 compared to the average of the last five years over the same period.
On Wednesday, Germany enacted a series of measures: a ceiling on heating in public buildings and administrations, a night ban on lighting in buildings, and a ban on heating private swimming pools if they are connected to the public network.