The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have announced that they have reached an agreement on the supply of gas reserves before winter.
The agreement reached concerns the proposed regulation which stipulates that Member States will replenish their gas reserves to “at least 80%” of their capacity by November 2022. Under the same agreement, the mandatory minimum level of gas storage will be increased. in the coming years to 90% for the following winter periods, in order to ensure adequate supply in the EU.
Member States could also partially achieve the 90% target by counting stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or alternative fuels.
Member States without underground storage facilities should ensure that at least 15% of their average annual gas consumption over the last five years is stored in another Member State.
Alternatively, they should develop a burden-sharing mechanism that provides financial support to achieve the supply objectives.
The co-legislators also approved a “filling course” system, which will allow continuous monitoring throughout the filling period. In 2022, the routes will be set out in the regulation with a flexibility margin of 5%. From 2023 onwards, the paths will be proposed by the Member States and determined by implementing acts to be adopted by the Commission.
The Council and Parliament also agreed on the mandatory certification of all storage system operators in order to avoid risks that could threaten the security of energy supply or any other essential security interest. The certification will give priority to larger storage facilities and storage facilities which in the recent past were paid at consistently low levels. Member States will have 150 days after the entry into force of the Regulation to certify priority installations and 18 months to certify other installations. Non-certified administrators will be required to relinquish ownership or control of storage facilities.
The co-legislators agreed that the filling obligations will expire on December 31, 2025, while the certification obligations will continue after that date. Finally, they agreed to grant a derogation to Cyprus, Malta and Ireland, as long as they do not have a direct connection to the gas system of other Member States.
The agreement is based on a proposal from the European Commission submitted on 23 March. It must be formally approved by Parliament and the Council for it to enter into force.
Finally, it is noted that by 1 August 2022 the Commission will issue guidelines on how to use a gas co-supply mechanism, which can be activated voluntarily by two or more Member States.