Germany to fill Europe’s largest gas storage

Germany has started filling in the massive Rehden gas storage facility abandoned by Russia’s Gazprom, the state-appointed manager said, as Europe’s biggest economy tries to hedge against the risk of Moscow cutting off gas supplies.

Russian gas is vital for Europe and for Germany in particular. However, Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s looming deadline for ruble payments, which most buyers have rejected, have cast doubt on supply.

Gazprom last month abandoned its Gazprom Germania business, which included Western Europe’s largest gas storage facility in Rehden, as diplomatic relations deteriorated.

“As of today, small volumes are being injected,” Egbert Laege, an administrator appointed by the German energy regulator to temporarily manage the company, told Reuters in his first interview on the job.

“We are working intensively on solutions to ensure that enough gas can enter the store soon.”

Rehden may hold some 4 billion cubic meters of gas, but received only small amounts last winter. Laege mentioned that the need to fill it up for next winter was evident.

Rehden is currently only 0.6% full, well below the 36% average for Germany’s gas storage facilities.

The regulator said it will control Gazprom Germania until September 30 and has the right to remove executives, hire new staff and tell management how to proceed. He has not said what will happen after that date.

“We have come a long way in stabilizing the activities of the Gazprom Germania group in uncertain times,” Laege said, adding that he was in regular contact with the economy ministry, the German network regulator and the group’s business partners.

“They all recognize the enormous importance of the Gazprom Germania Group in securing gas supplies. The trust of our business partners is perhaps our most important asset. I will do my best to maintain and reinforce this trust”, he concluded.

In recent years, Germany has imported 55% of its gas from Russia using pipelines.

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