Latvian storage volume lags behind rest of Europe
Latvia's national gas storage at Incukalns is being filled slower than EU peers ahead of the November 1 deadline, when Brussels has directed all EU member states to fill 80% of their national capacity.
As of August 28 the Incukalns underground gas storage, which also serves the needs of Estonia, Lithuania and Finland, held 11.98 TWh of gas equating to just 54.97% of its 2.3bn m3 active capacity, according to data from GIE's aggregated gas storage inventory.
Overall EU gas storage facilities have been filled to 79.9% of capacity, with the 80% milestone surpassed by Italy, France and Germany. French storage centres are 91.5% full on average, a figure beaten by only Denmark (95.1%) and Poland (99.6%) in the EU.
The slow rate of storing gas in Latvia could in part reflect recent curtailments in gas supplies from Russia's Gazprom. Gazprom halted Latvia's supply due unspecified contract "violations" on July 30, a day after Latvian energy firm Latvijas Gaze had confirmed it was paying for supplies in euros, despite the Kremlin's demand that payments should be made in rubles. Supplies were resumed on August 5, without an explanation.
Data published by Gas Infrastructure Europe shows that Latvia has not injected any gas into storage since August 18.
And officials at Estonian energy grid operator Elering point to the fact that Incukalns is unusually large for an underground storage facility. Elering's communications chief Ain Koster told Estonian newswire ERR that winter disruption to Baltic region energy markets would also be offset by continued access to Lithuania's Klaipeda LNG terminal.
Koster added: "In addition to the [capacity] percentage, one should also look at how large the volume of this storage is, or how large the amount in the storage is when compared with consumption. If we compare the amount of gas and consumption, the volume of our storage certainly does not look so bleak."
"The Lithuanian terminal and the Latvian storage nicely cover our current consumption. You might even say that the Lithuanian terminal largely covers the current consumption. Maybe we need to take gas from the Latvian storage as well.
"However, if we are also talking about the beginning of next year - spring and late winter, then we definitely need additional terminals, while the construction of the terminal is ongoing both in Estonia and in Finland."