It may be over 30°C in Belgium today, but the race is on to fill gas reserves before the winter chill comes around. There's nothing new in setting stocks aside for the colder months, it's a basic element of energy planning and would once have meant building a big pile of logs to keep the home fires burning.
The good news is that Belgium is on track to have its reserves fully replenished by winter – they are currently 85% full. The bad news is that the reserves are far from sufficient to guarantee energy security – even with the tanks filled to the brim, far less than 10% of the country's gas use would be covered.
The gas issue illustrates how structural short-termism is the cornerstone of almost all EU supply chains – even if individual Member States had shortages, their needs could be supplemented from elsewhere in the Union. Yet with scarcity confronting the entire continent, shortages are becoming unavoidable.
Some nations have more sizeable reserves – when full (they're currently at 90% capacity), France should have enough gas to provide a quarter of its energy needs. Though this is more favourable than the situation in Belgium, it doesn't take an energy consultant to see that France too will have its troubles.
Belgium can at least be grateful that Russian gas accounts for only 6.5% of its consumption, though with international demand growing with each passing day, astronomic gas bills are all but inevitable.
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