do building New LNG terminal off Le Havreaims to reduce Energy consumption by 10% in two years…two actions by France to avoid gas shortages next winter, in this new geopolitical context resulting from the war in Ukraine. A third is added: filling our gas storage capacities to the maximum. “We are aiming for 100% in early fall,” Elizabeth Bourne, Prime Minister, launched, last June 23during a visit to the National Gas Control Center in Ile-de-France.
This Wednesday, October 5, we’re there. After Belgium and Portugal, France has become the third European country to fill its gas stores to 100%, according to a press release, Energy Regulatory Authority (CRE)but also Storngy And the Terega, which operates storage sites in France. They are eleven in number, and all are underground cavities dWith a total capacity of 130 TWh.
Very useful reserves
This covers a third of our annual gas consumption. What’s more, if we only look at the gas winter, between November 1 and April 30, which is the period when our gas consumption is at its highest and when stocks are used up. “About 300 TWh is consumed during these five months in France,” identified Estibaliz Gonzalez Ferrer, Commercial and Strategic Director at Storengy. “Gas storage contributes to more than 50% of our daily needs during cold winter periods*,” she adds.
This indicates the strategic importance of these reserves, during the “classic” winter, but even more so for those who arrive. Because it would be necessary to dispense with Russian gas, which accounted for about 17% of French imports before the outbreak of the war. This is not the first time we have entered winter with almost full reserves. “This has already been the case in recent years with filling levels of over 90% in mid-October,” defines Gil Duhampour, Teréga’s Director of Commerce and Regulation. “What’s new this year is that we reached these very high levels earlier than usual.” It is very positive that you can rest assured of the condition of our stock before winter. »
But it does not protect us from a difficult winter
What would be quieter next… However, neither Estebales Gonzalez Ferrer nor Jill Duhihampour tell us they are safe from a complicated winter. Not more thanAnna KritiProfessor of Economics at Paris Dauphine University and Director Climate Economics Chair. “These stocks are not contingency reserves that we can rely on only if we really need them,” she says. We know that we will have to use it, not only to cover French needs, but also, perhaps, the needs of our European neighbors on behalf of to the principle of European solidarity. »
In other words, these stores that are 100% filled are not considered a “bonus”. GRT- Gasthe main gas carrier in France, and Teréga (which also transports gas), have been counting on it for their forecasts for this winter, Posted on September 14th. The two companies concluded that whether the winter is very cold or moderate, with no noticeable cold snap*, all gas supply sources must be mobilized. There are three: interconnection with pipelines in neighboring countries, LNG terminals (delivery liquefied natural gas by boat) and finally storage.
Reserves to keep as much as possible
The whole challenge, asserts Anna Creti, is to use the stored 130 TWh as accurately as possible, “to support as many other sources of supply as possible.” With this difficulty, specific to gas, “we can’t rely on reserves as easily as we can with oil,” the economics professor continues. The issue of pressure, explains Gil Duhampour. He explains that the more these reserves are emptied, the lower the pressure and the greater the drag force, which reduces the capacity with which we quickly mobilized this resource in a state of peak consumption.
These are not details, especially if we have late cold next year, as is common in April, and gas storage is already in full swing. Hence the imperative to maintain reserves as much as possible. It doesn’t rely much on Storengy and Teréga. “It is the gas suppliers – who also fill these reserves – who decide when to rely on these reserves,” recalls Gil Duhihampour and Estebales Gonzalez Ferrer. The problem, as the latter identifies, is that these suppliers may have no choice but to use these stocks too soon, “in the event of early cold snaps for which other sources of supply will not be sufficient to meet gas demand.”
This is the call that Storengy and Teréga then reiterated on Wednesday: Even with 100% full storage, “in no way should sobriety efforts be relaxed,” says Pierre Chambon, Managing Director of Storengy France. Elizabeth Bourne should say so again Thursday morning, presenting the energy sobriety plan the government has been preparing since this summer.
*For the sudden cold on January 5 and 6, 2021, 66% of the gas consumed came from storage, Storngy explains. The latter these days provided 40% more power than the French nuclear fleet.
** GRT Gaz and Teréga worked on two scenarios. An average winter without a noticeable cold snap shows a globally balanced system, with no gas deficit. “However, there is little room for maneuver, especially on days when consumption is higher,” the two gas transmission operators identified. And in the second, a very cold winter, “the winter deficit can reach 16 TWh, which is 5% of winter consumption, a level that can be absorbed by achieving sobriety targets set by public authorities.