Underground gas storage facilities (UGS) in Europe were 95.3% empty as of February 17, Russia’s state energy giant and major gas exporter Gazprom said on Saturday, citing data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.
This means that Europe now has only 4.7% of its gas reserves left for the remainder of the winter season.
The volume of active gas in storage facilities is 21% or 8.3 billion cubic meters less compared to the same time last year. In total, 44.8 billion cubic meters have already been withdrawn from Europe’s UGS this winter.
According to Gazprom, gas reserves in underground storage facilities in Ukraine are also at a minimum, having dropped to 10.6 billion cubic meters, which is 45% less than last year.
Also, earlier this week, authorities in Germany, which has one of the largest underground storage capacities in Europe, reported a plunge in storage volumes to historically low levels compared to previous years.
The European Union, however, this week claimed that its supplies were sufficient to last several more weeks in the event that Russia stops its gas flow to the bloc amid tensions over Ukraine.
Russian gas supplies to European countries had already started to fall in mid-2021, and the decline accelerated at the beginning of 2022. Gazprom, however, repeatedly insisted that it is still supplying Europe with gas in strict accordance with existing contracts.
Despite this, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Saturday called Gazprom’s supply policy intentionally harmful.
“Gazprom is consciously trying to store and deliver as little as possible while prices and demand are skyrocketing,” she said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, as quoted by Anadolu news agency.
According to the Commission, until recently, the EU satisfied almost a quarter (24%) of its energy needs with gas, 90% of which was imported. Some 40% of its imports came from Gazprom.