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Europe reaches natural gas storage goals more than two months early

Data on gas storage levels in Europe show facilities are at 90% of their peak capacity, a level reached more than two months ahead of schedule. Sanctions on Russia last year left the bloc scrambling for alternatives. File photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA
1 of 2 | Data on gas storage levels in Europe show facilities are at 90% of their peak capacity, a level reached more than two months ahead of schedule. Sanctions on Russia last year left the bloc scrambling for alternatives. File photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- European gas storage levels have reached the target rate of 90% of full capacity more than two months ahead of schedule, the government said Friday.

The bloc set a goal of having its storage tanks for natural gas filled to 90% of their capacity by Nov. 1. Gas storage is essential for the European economy as it covers about 30% of the region's gas demand during the winter.

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"Today's confirmation that we have met our gas storage requirements so far ahead of schedule underlines that the EU is well-prepared for winter and this will help to further stabilize markets in the coming months," Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in a statement.

Europe spent much of last year scrambling for alternative resources as sanctions imposed because of the war in Ukraine limited what was available from Russia, once among the region's main suppliers of natural gas.

New options in the form of liquefied natural gas from the likes of Australia, Qatar and the United States have since supported European markets.

"Key investments at EU and national level have also increased the EU's LNG import capacity and reinforced the resilience of the EU gas system," Simson added.

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Germany was an early-year mover on LNG. Starting from ground zero in terms of the capacity to turn LNG back to the gaseous form for energy use, Germany received its debut delivery of LNG during the first week of January, with the specialized Hoegh Esperanza vessel converting LNG shipped from the Calcasieu Pass export terminal in Louisiana.

An emerging possibility of a labor strike in Australia could dampen some of the recent optimism in Europe.

Gas Infrastructure Europe, a data agency, shows storage is at 90.12% of its peak capacity, however, beating the binding target of 90% set in June 2022. The 90% target is mandated for Nov. 1 each year.

Apart from alternative resources, regulations imposed last year on demand led to an 18% decline in consumption between August 2022 and May 2023. That effort has now been extended for another year.

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