Germany likely to miss gas storage targets, warns energy regulator

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Germany is likely to miss a November target for gas storage levels set by the government to avoid an energy crisis, the head of the Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator told German media outlet t-online on Thursday, warning Europe's biggest economy faced two tough winters.

Germany is in the second phase of a three-stage emergency plan to reduce its dependence on Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine. Russia has drastically cut flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline since mid-June and is currently supplying only 20% of agreed volumes, blaming technical issues. Europe says the move has been politically motivated.

It has already hit its first target for gas storage facilities to be 75% full by Sept. 1. The next goals are for storage levels to be at 85% by Oct. 1 and 95% by Nov. 1.

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"I don't expect we will achieve the next storage targets as quickly as the first one," Klaus Mueller, head of the Bundesnetzagentur, told t-online.

Reaching the 85% target is "not impossible, but very ambitious", especially by Oct. 1 if heating is already being used, said Mueller.

"In all our scenarios, we will miss an average filling level of 95% from Nov. 1. We will barely be able to do that because individual storage systems have started from a very low level," he said.

Mueller said Germans should save gas as they face potential problems for a couple of years.

"It's not just about one winter, it's about at least two and the next winter could be even tougher," he said, adding local gas shortages over the winter were likely.

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Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Josie Kao

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