Croatia’s Heating Gas Reserves Very Low

Total Croatia News

Due to freezing temperatures, Croatia’s gas reserves are lower than ever before.

Since the company Podzemno Skladište Plina (Underground Gas Storage Facility) was established in 2009, when it separated from INA, wintertime gas reserves have never been at such low levels, reports Jutarnji List on January 28, 2017.

And that is not all. Such a situation has apparently not occurred in the last 30 years, since the gas storage facility was put into operation. According to latest data, just 38 percent of the storage facility’s capacity is full. The reason for the half-empty reserves are freezing temperatures and an increase in gas consumption, which is not problem just in Croatia.

The total consumption of gas in the week from 16 to 22 January 2016 amounted to 304 million kWh while, according to preliminary data, the total consumption in the week from 16 to 22 January 2017 amounted to 364 million kWh, which is an increase in consumption of 19.6 percent. The current consumption in Croatia is between 50,000 and 60,000 megawatt-hours per day.

However, gas distributors say that there is no reason to worry. “The amounts of gas in the storage facility are at the planned levels and, regardless of the weather conditions, we do not expect any problems in the supply of customers”, announced Croatian Electric Company (HEP).

Prvo Plinarsko Društvo (First Gas Society; PPD) also said that its customers are currently receiving larger amounts of gas than contracted. However, they note that they have contracted sufficient storage capacities both in Croatia and abroad which will ensure the necessary flexibility for periods of peak demand. “Our customers should not worry”, claims PPD.

Although the current situation with the storage facility is not alarming, it opens up other issues. Players in the gas market say that the general situation with the underground storage facilities in Europe is different from that which existed in the last 30 years, when all surpluses were stored underground and then used in winter. Currently, there is an open market and the difference between summer and winter prices is so small that the real question is whether the gas should be stored at all. Therefore, each supplier optimizes its portfolio in a way which best suits it. Some decide to import gas in winter, while other countries buy gas in the summer and store it for the winter.

An additional problem for Croatia in the geology of the storage facility, which means that the declining volume of gas in the facility means that it is becoming harder to get the gas to the surface. In other words, when the gas is most needed it might be impossible to use it, even though it is stored. According to the official website of the storage facility, when the capacity is 38 percent full, it is possible to use 426,000 kilowatt hours of gas a day.

That is the reason why the peak storage in Grubišno Polje is so important. It has small capacity but is easy to use, and is therefore considered to be complementary to the Okoli storage. But, if Croatia wants to have total security of supply, then it should build a strategic gas storage facility such as the one in Beničanci, given the favourable geological structure and size. However, the concession for Beničanci is controlled by INA, and the government should come to an agreement with them.


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