Reitbrook natural gas storage facility near Hamburg: supplies run out before winter
Photo: A3576 Maurizio Gambarini / dpa
The wholesale prices for natural gas have been rising steadily for months. In many places, consumers are already feeling this. According to the comparison portal Verivox, 32 regional gas providers have announced price increases averaging 12.6 percent for September and October. When heating a single-family house, this leads to additional costs of 188 euros per year. Between January and July alone, the increase in import prices, which are determined by the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control, was around 42 percent.
Experts see several reasons for this. After the economy got back on its feet, global demand has normalized again, explains Fabian Huneke from the consulting firm Energy Brainpool. In addition, the gas storage facilities in Europe have not yet been replenished after the comparatively cold winter of 2020/21. In Germany, the levels are around two thirds on average. The underground storage facilities distributed all over Germany compensate for peaks in consumption, especially in winter. On cold days, up to 60 percent of gas consumption in Germany is covered by domestic storage facilities, according to the industry association Initiative Erdgasspeicher.
The current high price could also play a role, as companies shy away from keeping too much expensive gas in stock. "The assumptions of the market about the further development of prices would have led to less gas being stored in the previous feed-in season," says a spokesman for the Düsseldorf energy company Uniper, which has the largest storage capacity in Germany, which is currently around 88 percent full is.
Oliver Krischer, Vice-President of the Greens in the Bundestag, has a different explanation. "The situation with the empty Gazprom storage facilities in Germany and Europe was probably brought about deliberately," he suspects. Through its subsidiary Astora, Gazprom operates the storage facility in Rehden, Lower Saxony, which, with a volume of four billion cubic meters, is one of the largest in Europe. On September 15, the data platform for Rehden showed a fill level of less than five percent. Germany is sliding "into a situation with potential for blackmail," warns Krischer with a view to the approval process for the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2.
Gazprom Germania is keeping a low profile when asked about the reasons for the largely empty Rehden storage facility.
Injection and withdrawal quantities were carried out by the customers, a spokesman said on request.
"That is why we cannot predict how things will develop in the future." According to RWE, Gazprom is loyal to the contract.
"All of our suppliers and trading partners, including Gazprom, meet their delivery obligations," emphasized a spokesman.
When it comes to prices, there will be no all-clear for consumers in the foreseeable future: "We are expecting a major wave of gas prices this autumn," says Verivox energy expert Thorsten Storck.
mik / dpa-AFX