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Storengy Germany: Interview with Catherine Gras

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It has become quite a political Gasmarkt this time. One reason lies with the German federal government, but it is above all due to many EU member states and the EU Commission. On 18 October, the EU Commission presented a regulation proposal that provides far-reaching intervention in the gas wholesale market. If these proposals are implemented - and the conditions are probably quite good - then the framework conditions for the gas "market" will change to a large extent. Even if the EU does not call it that, the Commission and the majority of the member states assume market failure and want to if not replace, at least supplement market exchange with bilateral negotiations based on price indices they invented themselves. I am not sure that this will work out well, and I deal with the issue in this edition not only by describing what is on the agenda. An explicitly marked comment (which I rarely write) is provided in addition to the description. 

The federal government has provided me with plenty to write about thanks to the so-called "Doppelwumms" (double whammy or double strike - it is difficult to translate properly). A big bailout package is replacing the “gas levy”. And that is what is de facto happening. The announcement at the very last moment that the introduction of the gas levy would be waived was made simultaneously with the announcement of a relief package for households and industry with a volume of up to 200 billion euros. The central element is the gas price brake. Frankly, I have many concerns. I wrote enough in the last issue about my assessments of the handling of the gas levy in the political process. But to enforce a commission of experts to fit square pegs into round holes within days and solve different goals with one instrument is quite strange. The commission then presented a proposal that initially met with general approval, but in my opinion does not truly solve the problems. Apart from that, I am very eager to see whether the gas price cap for industry will survive the EU Commission's state aid evaluation. Jörg Kukies, state secretary in the Chancellor's Office, was quite optimistic about this at an event organised by the Economic Council of the SPD (Social Democratic Party), so let us wait and see. 

Despite all the turmoil, the topic of the month is the interview with Catherine Gras, managing director of Storengy Germany, one of the big storage operators. We talk about the role of THE in the storage market and the right incentives for filling storages for the next winter. Many market participants believe this is a question that urgently needs answers. 


TOPIC OF THE MONTH: Storengy Germany: Interview with Catherine Gras

Many market participants point out that the winter of 2023/24 could be "harder" than the current winter season. Above all, because it may become more difficult to refill the storage facilities. Catherine Gras, managing director of the storage operator Storengy Deutschland, shares these concerns. She explained why in an interview with me. But Ms Gras also has a suggestion: THE should tender the Strategic Storage-Based Options (SSBOs) earlier and more frequently and also adapt the design. Ms Gras also explains in the interview why she thinks this would be helpful. 


ener|gate Gasmarkt: Ms Gras, why will refilling be a challenge?

Ms Gras: One important point is the lack of storage bookings. Unlike last year, 55 per cent of the capacity has not yet been booked at the six largest operators. That means more than 100 TWh of working gas capacity is still open, probably as much as 130 TWh for Germany.

ener|gate Gasmarkt: What is the reason for this?

Ms Gras: A few things play a role there. At Storengy Germany, we have a hedging strategy and try to sell part of the capacity into the future. When we tried to do it this year, no customer was willing to book storage capacity for next year. The uncertainty about the Gas Storage Act played a major role, here...