AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch government has increased its filling target for the Bergermeer gas storage facility to 90% by Nov. 1 from an earlier goal of 68%, the Economic Affairs ministry said on Friday.
The government said in a statement it will subsidize the filling of the facility, currently 58% full, with 200 million euros ($201 million) remaining from an earlier subsidy and an additional 10 million euro subsidy.
Dutch gas storage facilities are now on average 71% full, according to government data, and have been filling up in recent weeks despite reductions in Russian gas flows to Europe.
“With this Cabinet decision, the storages will be filled in a safe way to easily above the European target of 80%”, the ministry said in a statement, referring to an EU goal for member states to fill gas storage facilities to that level by November.
Russia’s Gazprom has contractual rights to 40% of the space at Bergermeer, one of Europe’s largest commercial storage sites, but it has not made use of the facility since 2020. The Dutch government says it intends to fill Gazprom’s share under a “use it or lose it” clause.
The Cabinet reiterated plans on Friday to fund the filling of the remaining 1.2 bcm of capacity at the 6.2 bcm Norg storage facility near the Groningen gas field, which was temporarily paused this week after it reached the 80% full mark.
Costs for that could run up to 3 billion euros at current market prices as the government is buying the gas itself rather than subsidizing filling, though it could recoup costs when the gas is sold.
The Cabinet in April estimated the costs of having Norg – which is operated by a Shell/Exxon consortium – filled to 80% at roughly 6 billion euros.
($1 = 0.9948 euros)
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Jan Harvey)