Gas stocks in France, historically full, will have to be little emptied

Storage is 80 % of their capacity, well beyond the average of 55 % observed over the past six years, and will have to be partly emptied to respect “technical constraints”.

MO12345lemonde with AFP

Never has France had such full gas stocks. So much so that they will have to be “a little” emptied in the coming weeks to respect “technical constraints”, announced on Wednesday January 18, the manager of the GRTGAZ gas transport network.

Storage is “historically well filled” with a level which reached on January 15, 80 % of their capacity, far beyond the average of 55 % observed over the last six years at the same time, indicates the manager in Its updating of “gas perspectives” for winter published on its website .

Watched like milk on fire since summer, these storage were “crucial” for the passage of winter, due to fears linked to the drying up of Russian gas since the start of the war in Ukraine, there now has almost a year.

Irony of the situation, stocks are now as they need to “breathe”, that is to say to have outgoing and incoming movement. “We will therefore have to empty them a little,” summed up at the Agency France-Presse Thierry Found, managing director of GRTGaz. Their level reaches 106 TWh, or almost a quarter of the gas consumed in France in 2021 (474 ​​TWh).

“The technical constraints of French storage impose them (…)” a breathing “to keep their performance for upcoming winters. A significant drop in the filling level is therefore to be expected in the coming weeks”, explains GRTGAZ in His note.

Clement and sobriety temperatures

Stocks could then come down to a level closer to 60 %, “it is a significant drop, but which takes place every year”, according to Mr. found. “Gas suppliers who reserve storage capacities have a maximum level of quantity of gas not to be exceeded on a certain date, so they must make their arrangements to empty them enough,” he said. “We can expect in the coming weeks that they come out a little more storage and that they make it come a little less,” he added.

Russian gas represented 17 % of the gas consumed in France before the conflict. The country had to resort last year to gas intake by gas pipeline from Norway and liquefied natural gas (LNG), conveyed by boat, to fill its reserves, and participate in the supply of Europe, in particular of Germany, very dependent on Russian gas.

With these “supported supplies”, French storage was saved thanks to “mild temperatures until mid-November” and sobriety efforts, which resulted in a “drop in consumption” of 12.8 % between 1 er August and January 15.

So that GRTGAZ judges “very improbable” the “risk of a gas deficit in volume” on the rest of winter in France, even if it persists a “residual risk over a few days” in the event of Great cold and drop in supplies.

/Media reports cited above.