“What is at stake here, is securing gas supplies for this winter, for all Europeans – citizens, SMEs, energy-intensive industries. This is why we urgently need an EU-wide target for filling gas storages by 1 November 2022”, declared Jerzy Buzek MEP who is leading the European Parliament negotiating team on new EU gas storage rules.

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will start an urgent procedure on new rules that will oblige EU governments to fill their gas storages ahead of this winter and also ensure that the owners of these storage systems do not put the security of energy supply at risk.

Due to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and soaring energy prices, EU countries intend to drastically reduce their dependence on Russian gas as fast as possible. The European Commission has tabled a legislative proposal, introducing a minimum 80 percent gas storage level obligation for next winter in order to ensure security of energy supply, rising to 90 percent for the following years.

“European energy infrastructure is an infrastructure for peace”, said Christian Ehler MEP, the EPP Group Spokesman on Energy. “It is extremely important that we revisit our regulatory framework to make our energy system fit for purpose during war times. The gas storage proposal is a crucial first step in this to mitigate the immediate impact of Russia’s war and higher energy prices. It is important that we get this in place in time so that Europe enhances its strategic autonomy, diversifies its energy sources and secures its energy supply”, he said.

Buzek underlined the strategic importance of gas storage facilities: “Data shows that the storage facilities supply 25-30% of gas consumed every winter. In addition, storage facilities are considered critical infrastructure and contribute to absorbing price and supply shocks. Therefore, no gas storage in the EU should be controlled any longer by those who fuel speculative price rises and supply crises.”

Ehler called for urgent strategic investments in interconnecting energy infrastructure in Europe. “We have to keep in mind however that this is only the first step. The Fit for 55 and the Gas Package files currently in the Parliament are all based on peacetime proposals by the Commission. The current situation demands that we are more ambitious in becoming independent of Russian gas, but simply raising our targets for sustainable energy will not be enough. In the spirit of solidarity, burden sharing plays an important role enabling Member States to achieve storage targets. If we want to be more ambitious, we need to significantly step up our investments in energy infrastructure, including energy storage and trans-European connectors for gas, be it LNG or hydrogen.”

This Thursday 7 April, the European Parliament will vote on the amendments to the new gas storage rules in order to start informal negotiations with the Council of Ministers in the next couple of weeks with the aim of adopting these new rules possibly by May 2022.