The natural gas storage facility operated by Astora GmbH & Co KG, one of the largest in Western Europe and formerly controlled by Gazprom Germania, in Rehden, Germany, on Aug. 23, 2022. Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Germany met a crucial natural-gas storage target more than two weeks ahead of plan, but the country’s energy regulator warned that wasn’t enough to guarantee supplies during the coldest months.

Gas storage in Europe’s biggest economy is now on average 95.14% full, ahead of a Nov. 1 deadline, according to the Economy Ministry. In comparison, it was at only 72% in October 2021. Germany, which has relied heavily on Russian gas, set an even higher target than the European Union to shore up supplies.

While the strategy of appealing to industry and citizens to cut back demand to prevent rationing later in winter appears to be paying dividends for now, a colder-than-normal winter could disrupt economic output and homes might not get enough fuel to keep warm.

“The well-filled storage facilities will help us in winter but the storage facilities alone are not enough,” said Klaus Mueller, president of the Bundesnetzagentur, Germany’s energy watchdog. “The gas in the storage facilities is enough for about two cold winter months.”

Even so, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said storage levels showed new regulation on gas inventories was taking effect and provisions for the coming winter have been boosted “significantly.”

“This is an important milestone,” Habeck said in a statement. “Now it’s time to further strengthen the provisions for the coming winter.”


The fuel held in giant caverns and tanks helps absorb supply swings and provides 25% to 30% of Europe’s winter consumption.

Gas supplies from Russia have been shrinking since last year, with flows on the key Nord Stream pipeline cut this summer before being halted indefinitely after several blasts damaged the link last month.

Mild weather has helped reduced demand. Higher-than-normal temperatures last week meant people used about 30% less gas than a year earlier, according to data from the German grid regulator. Temperatures are forecast to dip next week before climbing back above the 30-year average, according to weather data on Bloomberg.

“With Russian gas transit through Ukraine continuing and winter being relatively mild, Europe has a chance of getting through winter 2022/23 with some difficulty but still relatively unscathed,” said Katja Yafimava, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. “However, a cold winter – especially if sets in early – would significantly undermine this proposition.”

In order to avoid a gas emergency in winter, Germany needs to increase gas imports, BNetzA’s Mueller said. The government is chartering five floating LNG terminals and at least two will be ready in time for winter. Gas consumption must fall by at least 20%, he said.

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