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German Regulator Warns Of Severe Gas Shortage In A Cold Winter

Germany's natural gas supply faces its toughest test yet, and that test won’t come from Putin.  

Suppose the coming winter is colder than usual. In that case, Germany could see severe nationwide gas shortages, which it will not be able to predict more than two weeks in advance, Klaus Müller, the president of Germany's Federal Network Agency, Bundesnetzagentur, told German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview published on Wednesday. 

"I can't give an exact forecast of where the risk of a shortage is the greatest," Müller told Handelsblatt. 

"If we get a very cold winter, we have a problem." 

Due to the weather forecasts, Germany will not be able to predict gas demand more than two weeks in advance, he added.  

It's good that storage is filling faster than expected, Müller said. 

Despite faster storage builds than usual, Germany will only have enough natural gas to cover two and a half months of consumption this winter if Russia completely suspends deliveries, Müller said in the middle of August. 

Two weeks later, Russia shut down Nord Stream, the main gas export pipeline to Germany, saying it wouldn't reopen until Western sanctions impeding gas turbine repairs in the West are not lifted. 

Gas storage sites in Germany were nearly 89% full as of September 14, higher than the EU average of 84.5% full storage, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. 

The EU has achieved its 80% gas storage use target two months ahead of November 1, but gas in storage covers only 20%-25% of annual consumption in the bloc, Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday as it raised its European TTF and U.S. Henry Hub gas price assumptions in the short and medium term. 

Meanwhile, the German government could step in to buy a stake in another big gas importer – VNG AG – after rescuing Uniper earlier this summer, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.   

By Josh Owens for Oilprice.com 

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