‘Let the winter come!’

Andrey Vladimirov

‘‘Let the winter come!” – the headline in the tabloid Bild emotionally, but quite accurately describes the current state of affairs in the gas industry in Germany. According to the data of the Federal Grid Agency, as of the middle of the day on November 2, underground gas storage facilities in the country were filled almost to capacity – by 98.91 percent.
And this, it seems, is not the limit yet: the pumping of gas into the reserve bins continues. For reference: there are more than forty underground gas storage facilities in Germany. The largest – not only in the Federal Republic, but throughout Western Europe – is located in Reden (Lower Saxony). Its total volume is 3.9 cubic kilometers. The filling of the Reden reservoir today is slightly below the national average – 92.21 percent.
But in general, the accumulation of the fuel reserve is well ahead of schedule. The plan was not only fulfilled, but exceeded. The plan is to fill the vaults to 95 percent by November 1st. “The final target will be met and possibly even exceeded if the current weather situation does not change, despite the fact that import volumes through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have ceased since the end of August,” the Federal Network Agency predicted two weeks ago. And how it looked into the water.
All in all, they seem to have succeeded. It can already be said that, contrary to dire forecasts, winter will not be a disaster for the country’s economy and population. By what means was this achieved? The we-ather conditions mentioned by the agency, of course, also played a role – the air temperature is 2.5 degrees higher than the average for this period in 2018-2021. But this, of course, is not the determining factor.
First of all, of course, energy-saving measures, which the authorities conjure citizens and businesses to adhere to in the future, have had an effect. “If the winter is very cold, the storage facilities will quickly become empty,” warns the head of the Federal Grid Agency, Klaus Müller. “It is therefore important that even when temperatures drop, we continue to be very careful about our gas consumption and save as much as possible.”
The agency’s official website says this even more clearly: “A gas shortage in the country in winter can be avoided if, firstly, the savings target is met – reducing consumption by at least 20 percent. Secondly, if LNG terminals will start supplying gas by the beginning of next year.”
Until now, Germany has not had a single terminal for receiving tankers with liquefied gas. But soon (at the end of the outgoing – at the beginning of next year) there will be as many as four. The first, in Wilhelm-shaven, is expected to be operational before Christmas. Its design capa-city is up to 7.5 billion cub-ic meters of natural gas per year (eight percent of the country’s total gas consumption).
However, although this is close, it is still the future. As for the present, it is mainly partners and neighbors in the EU who help to fill Germany’s gas storage facilities. “Gas imports fro-m the Netherlands, Belgi-um, and also from France have increased again in recent weeks,” the Federal Network Agency said. “Ge-rmany uses the LPG infrastructure in the Benelux co-untries. Imports from Nor-way can also be increased.”
As for French imports, the event can be called historic: in mid-October, France began direct gas supplies to Germany for the first time. They are carried out within the framework of the French-German energy partnership. From France, Germany today receives about three percent of its total daily gas imports.
“Germany has only a slightly smaller amount of gas today than in previous years,” the officials conclude. “As gas is being saved and consumption has decreased accordingly, we are now in a comfortable situation and can fill storage faster than expected.” “.
Journalists from the newspaper Bild translate this into a more understandable language for the layman: “Even with a complete cessation of Russian gas supplies, Germany will survive the winter in the warmth.”
Not all, of course, the townsfolk will agree with this peppy wording. Optimism is greatly diminished by bills for electricity and gas, and by the government’s tough austerity measures.
Due to these bills and these measures, in German apartments and offices, the coming winter will, objectively speaking, be noticeably colder than in previous winters. But still – and this is also an indisputable fact – much warmer than it could be.