EXCLUSIVE Germany begins to fill Western Europe’s largest gas storage site

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF, May 5 (Reuters) – Germany has started filling the huge Rehden gas storage facility abandoned by Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM), the state-appointed site manager said on Thursday , as Europe’s largest economy seeks to hedge against risk. of Moscow cutting off the supply.

Russian gas is vital for Europe and Germany in particular. But supplies were thrown into doubt by Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and an impending deadline set by Russia for ruble payments, which most buyers rejected.

Gazprom last month abandoned its Gazprom Germania operations, including Western Europe’s largest gas storage site in Rehden, as diplomatic relations deteriorated. Read more

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“As of today, small volumes are being injected,” Egbert Laege, the administrator appointed by the German energy regulator to temporarily manage the company, told Reuters in his first interview in the role. .

“We are working intensively on solutions to ensure that already much more gas can flow into the storage facility.”

Rehden can hold about 4 billion cubic meters of gas but only received small amounts last winter. Laege said it was clear it needed to be filled for the coming winter.

Rehden is currently only 0.6% full, well below the 36% average for gas storage facilities in Germany.

The regulator said it would control Gazprom Germania until September 30 and had the right to fire managers, hire new staff and tell management how to proceed. He did not say what will happen after that date.

“We have made good progress in stabilizing the activities of the Gazprom Germania group in these uncertain times,” Laege said, adding that he was in regular contact with the Ministry of Economy, the German network regulator and business partners of the band.

“Everyone recognizes the enormous importance of the Gazprom Germania Group for the security of gas supply. The trust of our business partners is perhaps our most important asset. I will do my utmost to maintain and strengthen this trust.”

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Reporting by Vera Eckert, Christoph Steitz and Tom Kaeckenhoff Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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