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One of Europe's Largest Gas Storage Sites Could Start The Winter Empty

The Haidach gas storage site in Austria—one of central Europe's largest—may be unable to receive any natural gas ahead of next winter due to a lack of connections other than with Russia's Gazprom, Austrian energy officials told Bloomberg on Friday.

The Haidach site was built and used by Gazprom and is one of the biggest in central Europe. It has the capacity to hold enough natural gas to cover four months of consumption in Austria.

Gazprom, however, halted earlier this month gas supply to Gazprom Germania GmbH, its former subsidiary, which Germany seized a few weeks ago. In retaliation for Western sanctions, Russia imposed sanctions on Gazprom's subsidiaries in Europe, banning them from supplying Russian gas.

Gas supply to some units of Gazprom Germania has stopped, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told the Parliament earlier this month.

"Gazprom and its subsidiaries are affected," Minister Habeck said as quoted by Reuters, adding that "This means some of the subsidiaries are getting no more gas from Russia."   

The halting of Russian supply to Gazprom's German unit means it cannot fill the huge underground storage facility near Salzburg in Austria. The storage site is currently connected only to Gazprom's pipeline network.

So Austria will need to build a new pipeline connection from the closest gas pipeline, Penta West, Austrian operator Gas Connect told Bloomberg in an emailed response to questions.

The construction cannot happen before the start of next winter, and Austria could be scrambling to fill the storage site.

As of May 26, gas storage capacity in Austria was 30% full, below the EU average of 44%, with storage at GSA Haidach at zero, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, EU member states are now required to reach a minimum 80% gas storage level by November 1 to protect against potential interruptions to supply. From 2023, the target will be raised to 90% full gas storage by November 1.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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