Whatever happens in Ukraine, the Czech Republic has sufficient natural gas reserves. That is the message from local gas suppliers, which say the country has enough natural gas to fuel households and businesses for several months.
The issue has been the focus of attention after the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, threatened last week that his country would cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine unless it received millions in payments.
The two countries have been at loggerheads since the Ukraine crisis that culminated in Russia’s annexation of the former’s Crimea region months ago.
Ukraine is a major conduit for Russian gas supplies to European states, including the Czech Republic, and disputes over price have led to major problems for consumers in some parts of the continent in the past.
However, if Moscow does turn the taps off Czech consumers need not fret. At least not for some time – as local suppliers currently possess the equivalent of a third of annual consumption.
The country’s biggest natural gas company, RWE, says its six underground storage tanks have a total capacity of 2.7 billion cubic metres. That is equivalent to approximately two month’s consumption in the Czech Republic in the winter months, a spokesperson told the news website Novinky.cz.
RWE’s storage tanks are currently just over 50 percent full, having been gradually filled over the last two months.
A considerably smaller player, Moravia’s MND has some 208 million cubic metres of gas in its underground stores, which contain gas produced here in the Czech Republic. That would be enough to supply a quarter of million households for a whole winter, its spokesperson told Novinky.cz.
Meanwhile, supplier Česká energie is looking to the future, building a storage facility by a former uranium mine with a capacity of 170 million cubic metres.
The new plant will have an advantage over other stores in that – when it is completed in four years’ time – it will employ fast technology capable of delivering 20 million cubic metres a day to the national network.
That figure represents about 30 percent of the volume of natural gas that can be delivered by all of the storage facilities in the country. In February of this year, consumption ranged from 26 to 39 million cubic metres a day.
Government officials have also reassured Czech consumers and companies that the country has sufficient gas reserves. After a meeting of the State Security Council on Tuesday the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, put a figure of 100 days on the country’s natural gas reserves.
Mr. Sobotka also said the Czech Republic could supply Slovakia with gas from the Nord Stream pipeline, which delivers natural gas from Russia via the Baltics, if the neighbouring state found itself short as a result of a freeze on supplies to Ukraine.