Germany's energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, remains concerned over gas supply security in winter 2023/24, saying March 23 that preparations for the next winter season were still a "key challenge."
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The Bundesnetzagentur has continued to advocate for gas savings of at least 20% -- higher than the 15% target agreed at EU level -- given the major impact on Germany of the halt in Russian gas deliveries.
Germany suffered the most among EU member states from the Russian supply curtailments, with a number of buyers forced to buy expensive gas on the open market to make up for the Russian shortfall.
Germany's strict targets for both demand reductions and storage injections helped it make it safely through the past winter season without the need for enforced rationing.
"We were able to avert a gas shortage last winter," the regulator said in its weekly market update March 23.
"Nevertheless, the preparation for the winter of 2023/2024 remains a key challenge. That's why economical gas consumption is still important," it said.
The repeated warning came despite a sharp drop in German gas consumption in Week 11 (March 13-19).
Consumption averaged 2.662 TWh/d in the week, down by 26.3% compared to the 2018-2021 average, meeting the country's target of a 20% reduction for only the fourth time this year.
Germany achieved gas savings of more than 30% in the first two weeks of 2023 as high temperatures reduced demand for heating, while demand was 23% lower than the average in Week 7.
In all other weeks, consumption was down on the 2018-2021 average, but by less than 20%.
Lower demand has enabled Germany to maintain a high level of gas storage, with sites filled to 64% of capacity as of March 21, effectively the same level as the week before.
Temperatures have turned warmer in recent weeks, with the EU as a whole seeing a switch to net storage injections on March 18.
High stocks through much of Europe have helped keep a lid on European gas prices in recent months.
Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the benchmark Dutch TTF month-ahead price at Eur39.98/MWh on March 22, well down on the record high of almost Eur320/MWh in late August.
"Wholesale prices have fallen in recent weeks," the regulator said. "But companies and private consumers must continue to adjust to fluctuating prices and higher price levels," it said.