OREANDA-NEWS. Gas storage capacity in Germany has fallen below 60 percent. This was announced by Sebastian Bleschke, executive director of the German Association of Underground Gas Storage Operators (INES).

"The occupancy rate has fallen below 60 percent,"- he was quoted as saying by the Handelsblatt newspaper.

It is specified that it currently stands at around 59 per cent, which is a "historically low level" compared to previous years.

"Since the real winter is yet to come, the relatively small reserves must certainly be handled with care. If the withdrawal of gas from storage is as it is now, the [storage] level will become very low in February,"- the INES executive warned.

According to the publication, Trading Hub Europe GmbH announced a special tender for the purchase of natural gas in February in order to prevent power outages. The tenders will be closed on Friday. The special tender is a market-based mechanism for securing supplies of natural gas. In Bleschke's view, given the current market situation, procuring gas will be "definitely challenging". However, the German Economy Ministry, as the newspaper points out, described the tender as a normal process.

A day earlier, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said that the European Union's underground gas storage facilities (UGS) were 62% full. According to her, this figure is 12 p.p. below the normal level. At the same time, the European Commission proposed to set up a mechanism within which the EU countries could carry out joint voluntary purchases of natural gas to fill the underground storage facilities.

Earlier, on December 14, it was reported that the EU could refuse from long-term contracts on gas supplies after 2049. Such a decision may be taken due to plans for a radical revision of the energy market and transition to green energy. To increase energy security in the region, Brussels proposes to change the approach to gas storage - to achieve a high level of storage capacity at the beginning of the heating season. It would also allow the operators to carry out voluntary joint purchases of strategic gas reserves.

A week earlier, Dmitry Skryabin, a portfolio manager at Alfa-Capital Asset Management, expressed the opinion that if the winter in Europe is cold, the region could face gas shortages at the end of the heating season. He said that according to the latest data, the withdrawal of blue fuel from European UGSFs in November reached the maximum level for the last five years - 11.2bn cu.m. Managing partner of WMT Consult Ekaterina Kosareva believes that gas prices in Europe will continue to rise.