The Netherlands will reach the European Union target of filling up gas storage sites to 80 percent capacity as early as next week, according to its energy minister.
“I expect the Netherlands to reach the 80 percent target in the upcoming days, next week, the Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten told Bloomberg on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 energy ministers in Bali.
The European Union this year adopted rules requiring countries to ensure gas storage sites are 80 percent full before the coming winter, and 90 percent full in following years as risks to supply piled up after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dutch gas storages have been filled to 77.5 percent capacity as of Friday, according to official data. The facility in Norg has already been filled to 83.3 percent but Bergermeer, the biggest so-called open-access site in Europe, is only 67.8 percent full.
Jetten vowed to “do whatever we can to fill up Norg to 90 percent capacity.” At Bergermeer, “we will also have to use the space that was reserved for Gazprom as energy security is more important,” he said.
Bergermeer, which plays a key role in the region’s energy security is operated by Abu Dhabi’s Taqa, but Gazprom PJSC is entitled to a share of capacity each year and pays a portion of the operating costs.
Jetten said the Dutch government has not received a reaction from Gazprom after it has instructed its state-owned natural-gas company to fill up some of the 40 percent of capacity allocated to the company.
As surging prices threaten the economy and push households toward poverty, the Europe Union is considering unprecedented interventions in the energy market, including price caps, reducing power demand and windfall taxes on profits.
Jetten said price caps will be the most difficult part of the discussion as the bloc’s energy ministers are due to discuss how to respond to the crisis at an emergency meeting next week. He said he prefers subsidy to low-income households over price caps “at the moment.”
“Capping sounds logical because you want to protect your consumers and your businesses but if you introduce the wrong cap there will be difficulties for buying gas or producing electricity,” Jetten said. “Someone’s gotta pay the prices eventually and it will probably be the tax payers’ money to fill in the gap.”