Underground gas storage plays a key role in ensuring Europe’s energy security. Natural gas powers 23% of the current global primary energy demand. Russia holds the top spot in terms of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, with a total proved resource of 38 TCM (1,341 trillion cubic feet).
Europe has over 170 active underground gas storage sites measuring up to a total capacity of 4,269.6 bcf and 42% of these sites are in Germany. Yet Europe has a gas crisis. The natural gas production tapped in the EU doesn’t match its demand. Though the EU dependency on natural gas has come down to 83.5%, it still has a long way to go. Prompting imports from Russia (48%) mainly through pipelines and through a major Russian MNC Gazprom that owns eight underground gas storage facilities in some of the top European countries. The company has substantial sway in Europe’s natural gas pricing.
Here are the five dominant countries in the EU that are providing and storing natural gas in Europe’s turf.
The Groningen gas field, one of the largest natural-gas fields in the world, is situated in the Netherlands. Government-owned Gasunie along with Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) and ExxonMobil operates the gas produced, which makes up 25% of natural gas reserves in the EU. The gas extraction, though, has led to the strong earth tremors the region experienced that had around 35,000 homes reeling under its after-effects. The government plans to shut operations in this region by 2030.
With over 25.94 Tcf of the proven natural gas reserve, Romania is one of the largest homegrown suppliers in Europe. A large chunk of Romania’s natural gas, 75% of it, is in Transylvania. Two homegrown companies: Romgaz and Petrom dominate the domestic natural gas production market in Romania. Romgaz has 51.25% of the market share. It has eight underground storage facilities with a total capacity of 106 Bcf. Six are operated by Romgaz and the other two are maintained by Depomureş and Amgaz.
Some of the most active underground gas storage sites of Europe are in Germany, like Emden and Rehden. It has one of the largest natural gas reserves in Europe. As of September 2021, Germany has an active working gas capacity of 1,326 Bcf or a total of 255 terawatt-hours’ worth of retrievable natural gas, mainly stored in its many salt caverns.
With an active working gas capacity of 646 bcf and a working gas capacity of 195 terawatt-hours. Fiume Třešť I, Minerbio I, and Conegliano are the major active underground gas storage sites here. Though it has 1.74 Tcf, natural gas import accounts for about 92% of the total natural gas supply in Italy.
Norway holds 66 Tcf of proven gas reserves as of 2017 and produces enough natural gas to meet 3 per cent of global demand. Norway, however, meets 20% of the natural gas requirement of Europe. The third-largest exporter of natural gas in the world, its reserves are state-owned, with a portion of license access given to Equinor (formerly Statoil)
Do you think the EU is heavily dependent on Russia for natural gas? How will it all pan out in the next few years?
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- December 3, 2021