Storing natural gas

Given Austria's geological set-up, the only type of underground storage available are pore storage facilities. As opposed to cavern storage sites that are mostly used to cover peaks, pore storage is particularly useful to balance seasonal consumption swings.

At the time of liberalisation, the only two storage system operators active in Austria were OMV and RAG. New storage capacity has been created in RAG's concession area, with RAG operating the facilities but not acting as storage undertaking in these cases. This type of cooperation was first applied when the Haidach storage facility was commissioned in 2007: RAG acts as the operator, Wingas GmbH & Co KG and Gazprom Export as marketers. The model was repeated in 7-fields, where RAG again is the operator of the facility but marketing is handled by Uniper Energy Storage (formerly known as E.ON Gas Storage). This type of cooperation has meant that there are now three more storage undertakings that market products on the Austrian storage markets.

The transposition of Article 15 of Directive 2009/73/EC into national law meant legal and organisational unbundlng for storage system operators. Storage system operators' independence must be guaranteed through measures such as separation from the vertically integrated undertaking in terms of company law, sufficient ressources, de facto independence of executives, establishment of a compliance programme and a compliance officer, and the conficential treatment of sensitive business information. The unbundled storage undertakings that now market capacity in Austria are: astora GmbH & Co KG, Uniper Energy Storage GmbH, GSA LLC, OMV Gas Storage GmbH, and RAG Energy Storage GmbH.

The Gaswirtschaftsgesetz (Natural Gas Act) 2011 also introduced new rules for system utilisation by storage system operators: since 1 January 2013, storage system operators have had to book the maximum storage entry and exit capacity that they need during the next calendar year with the system operator once a year.

The development of storage sites during the last ten years (7-fields, Haidach, Aigelsbrunn) and the 685 million cubic metre increase in storage capacity by Uniper Energy Storage on 1 April 2014 have meant that the working gas volume in Austrian storage facilities is currently 92,125 GWh - which is more than the annual gas consumption in 2013.

The Haidach storage facility does not currently have a direct connection to the market area but is instead filled through the German gas network; it is possible to use these gas volumues for the Austrian market, where they appear as imports. The volumes of the storage sites that are directly connected to the market area are close to 70& of total annual consumption. In addition, the Slovak storage site LAB is connected to the virtual trading point through the MAB line; the storage system operators for this facility are Nafta and Pozagas.

Capacity in Austria, March 2015

Speicherunternehmen
Speicher
Einspeicherrate
in MWh/h
Anteil an gesamter
Einspeicherrate
Entnahmerate
in MWh/h
Anteil an gesamter
Entnahmerate
Arbeitsgas- volumen in MWh Anteil an gesamtem Arbeitsgas- volumen
OMV Gas Storage
Schönkirchen
7,306   10,790   20.614.000  
OMV Gas Storage
Tallesbrunn
1,405   1,798   4.496.000  
OMV Gas Storage
Thann
1,293   1,461   2.810.000  
OMV Gas Storage
Speicher gesamt
10,004 28% 14,049 32% 27.920.000 30%
RAG Energy Storage
Puchkirchen
5,800   5,800   12.140.000  
RAG Energy Storage
Haidach 5
224   224   180,000  
RAG Energy Storage
Aigelsbrunn
560   560   1.460.000  
RAG Energy Storage
Nussdorf/Zagling
681   681   1.310.000  
RAG Energy Storage
Speicher gesamt
7,265 21% 7,265 17% 15.090.000 16%
Uniper Energy Storage
7fields
6,742 19% 10,112 23% 19.415.000 21%
An MG angeschl.
Speicher
24,011   31,426   62.425.000  
Astora
Haidach
3,733 11% 4,133 9% 9.900.000 11%
GSA LLC
Haidach
7,467 21% 8,267 19% 19.800.000 21%
Summe 35,211 100% 43,826 100% 92.125.000 100%

march 2015; Source: www.omv.com; http://www. rag-energy-storage.at; http://www.astora.de/speicher.html; www.eon-gas-storage.de; http://www.gsa-services.ru