Austria has filled its gas storage sites to 80% of capacity, helping to ensure the country's gas supply security for the winter, energy minister Leonore Gewessler said Oct. 4.
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Under new EU rules, member states are required to fill their storage facilities to 80% of capacity by Nov. 1, 2022, and to 90% of capacity by Nov. 1 in subsequent years.
Austria has one of the EU's largest gas storage capacity compared with its consumption, but has still managed to fill stocks to 80% of capacity one month early.
"We already reached our gas injection target of 80% at the beginning of October," Gewessler said on Twitter. "With the existing 76.79 TWh of gas [in storage], we have a good safety cushion for this winter," she said.
Gewessler said the current level of storage was equivalent to 86% of Austria's annual gas consumption.
OMV, whose storage sites are now 97% full, had the highest level of filling, she said, and was already close to the maximum storage capacity.
Austria has been traditionally dependent on Russian gas imports, but OMV has also moved to secure some 40 TWh (3.8 Bcm) of additional European transport capacity for the new gas year staring Oct. 1.
The volume corresponds to almost half of Austria's annual demand and covers OMV's delivery obligations in Austria.
The gas transfer points are Oberkappel in Upper Austria -- from where gas is piped from Germany -- and Arnoldstein, which links to Italy.
Gewessler said Austria's supply security was ensured "despite the challenging circumstances."
"We are well prepared. But we must not forget that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is not a reliable counterparty. That is why we continue to work on reducing our gas dependency," she said.
Worries over gas storage levels in Europe had kept gas prices at sustained highs over the summer, but a high level of filledness has seen prices drop back from their late-August highs.
Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the Dutch TTF month-ahead price at an all-time high of Eur319.98/MWh Aug. 26. It was last assessed at Eur168.50/MWh on Oct. 3, still 84% higher year on year.
Despite Gewessler's comments on Moscow's reliability as a gas supplier, Russian deliveries to Austria continue despite supplies to Italy via Austria having been halted on Oct. 1 due to a row over Austrian regulatory changes.
Austrian regulator E-Control said new regulations for gas balancing groups came into force in Austria on Oct. 1, and that the changes had been known to all market participants "for months."
"There still seem to be open issues in the balance group to which the transit to Italy falls," it said.
E-Control said there had been no impact on gas supplies to Austria as a result of the regulatory changes.
"Gas deliveries from Russia to Austria take place via a different balance group with a different balance group manager," it said.
"To the knowledge of E-Control, the internal balance group agreements were probably made in good time. A restriction of deliveries to Austria is therefore currently not recognizable."