MEPs back mandatory gas storage as Russian supplies dwindle

European Parliament lawmakers today backed plans obliging EU countries to fill their gas reserves to at least 80 percent of capacity by November 1 and to 90 percent before winter 2023 — an effort to protect the bloc from a cutoff in Russian gas deliveries.

Since EU countries have gas storages of varying sizes, they will only be required to fill these to 35 percent of their national consumption over the past five years to avoid disadvantaging countries with very large storages.

MEPs voted 490 to 47 in favor of the proposal, with 55 abstentions.

The proposal must still be formally adopted by the Council before it becomes law, after which it would enter into force in July.

Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said today that 12 EU countries have so far been affected by Russian gas supply reductions. 

“The risk of a full gas disruption is now more real than ever before,” he told MEPs. “That is why the adoption of the gas storage regulation … is so important at this moment.

The EU’s total gas storage is currently filled to around 55 percent of capacity. 

The proposal also includes a voluntary mechanism for joint procurement of gas and the creation of a certification procedure for storage operators demonstrating they are not a danger to Europe’s security of supply.

Last week, Moscow reduced gas flows through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany to 40 percent of capacity, and Berlin today declared stage two of its three-stage energy alert system.