RIGA - Latvia has already met the requirements of the European Union's Gas Storage Regulation, according to which the filling obligation for underground gas stocks is limited to a volume corresponding to 35 percent of the member states' annual gas consumption, LETA was told at Conexus Baltic Grid (Conexus) gas storage and transmission system operator.
To meet the requirements of the EU's new gas storage rules, Latvia has to store in its underground facility the amount of gas equivalent to 35 percent of its average annual consumption over the last five years, which according to Conexus' estimates is 4.46 terawatt hours (TWh) of gas. Over the past five years, Latvia has been consuming an average of 12.74 TWh of gas per year.
As of Thursday, June 30, the total amount of gas stored at the underground facility in Incukalns was 9.71 TWh, while the gas stocks of Latvia-registered users totaled 4.85 TWh, or 50 percent of all gas stocks stored in the underground facility.
Conexus board chairman Uldis Bariss indicated that the new regulation will strengthen the security of the EU's gas supply, considering the upcoming and following winters. According to the EU Gas Storage Regulation, Europe's gas reserves must be refilled before the winter, and their management protected from outside interference.
"From this perspective, the existing volume of gas injected in the storage facility has to be regarded as good, as 40 percent of the 2022/2023 season's injection capacities have been filled already," said Bariss.
As reported, the 18 EU member states with underground storage facilities, including Latvia, are required to fill 80 percent of their storage capacity by November 1 - and are encouraged to aim for 85 percent. In the coming years, the target will be 90 percent.
The Economics Ministry indicated that when drawing up the new regulation, the European Commission took into consideration the unique situation of Latvia and Austria, which are the only EU member states with large gas storage facilities whose capacity is larger than the country's gas consumption.
Member states without storage infrastructure are required to agree bilateral arrangements for sufficient quantities to be stored for their use in neighboring countries, in a spirit of solidarity. Gas storage facilities will now be considered critical infrastructure and all storage operators in the EU will have to go through a new certification process to reduce the risks of outside interference.