France is rushing to build up gas reserves in anticipation of Russian supplies running out
At the edge of a forest, lost amidst thirsty fields, a few fountain heads emerge from the ground. These swan-necked tubes give little hint of the size of the “bubble”, the gas reservoir, which stretches out under our feet. “Here, the gas is stored several hundred meters underground in porous rock. Less reactive than salt caves, another technology, this type of storage has the advantage of being able to store and release large amounts of energy in winter, when we use five times more gas than in summer. »explains Pierre Chambon, Managing Director of Storengy France, a subsidiary of the Engie Group, the leading gas storage operator in France.
Located in Saint-Illiers-la-Ville, near Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines), this strategic site, like the fifteen others in France, began its gas cellar like every year before the cold season – from April to November fill up. This time with a notable difference: doing it as quickly as possible.
“A priori we started well”consists of Mr. Chambon, who oversees this “injections” like milk on fire. “All in all, our customers, shippers and energy suppliers, who reserve these capacities as warehouses, played their part. As of July 26, they were already more than 77% occupied.”he explains and specifies that the government’s minimum target (85% on 01.01ah November) is available.
In addition, in the event of difficulties, as foreseen by Article 10 of the Purchasing Power Bill, it would fall to Storengy and Teréga, the second operator to take over the management
two out of sixteen locations in south-west France, “play the armed wing of the state” and restock if necessary. “These are particularly strategic in the heart of winter. On some days, at peak times, they can account for up to 60% of consumption.” underlines Gilles Doyhamboure, Director of Trade and Regulation at Teréga. These reservoirs “Supplement the gas delivered by pipeline or by ship in the form of liquefied natural gas [GNL] », he adds. Fossil gases that also mix in the basements before one day they adapt to get biomethane, synthesis gas or hydrogen.
“The competition is likely to get tougher”
To successfully replace Russian gas, which accounted for 17% of the national supply in 2021, France is demanding more from its other partners – Norway at the top, but also Algeria, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Qatar. Significantly, it is the European country that increased its LNG imports the most in the first half of the year. Even more than Spain and the UK. Often derived from shale gas, this gas is liquefied to reduce volume and then transported on LNG tankers before being converted back to the gaseous state at its destination.
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