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Opinion
Javier Blas

Earlier Than Ever, European Gas Storage Is Half-Empty

Russia is restricting supply westward and tweeting reminders of the perilous gas situation faced by Europe. 

A Gazprom storage facility in Russia.

A Gazprom storage facility in Russia.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

On Christmas eve, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned natural gas giant, tweeted a rather unfestive message: Gas inventories in Europe were depleting quickly. Since then, Gazprom has been reminding the world of the trend every few days. “It should be noted that gas reserves in Europe’s UGS [underground gas storages] are currently at their lowest for the season in the long history of observation,” it tweeted again earlier this week.

Gazprom is right. On Thursday, Gas Infrastructure Europe, an industry association, announced that European gas inventories had dropped below the key 50% mark of total capacity, down to 49.33% as of Jan. 12. It’s the earliest the half-empty mark has ever been reached, beating the previous record by seven days. Typically, Europe’s gas inventories don’t fall to half until about early-to-mid February. During some mild winters, the inventories don’t sink below midpoint until early March.