Home » Gas grid congestion soars as EU pivots from Russian fuel

Gas grid congestion soars as EU pivots from Russian fuel

BRUSSELS, May 31 (Reuters) – Europe’s gas network operators collected more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in grid congestion revenues last year, as Europe’s race to replace Russian fuel caused bottlenecks, European Union energy regulators said on Wednesday.

Congestion on Europe’s gas grid tripled last year to unprecedented levels, the EU’s Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) said in a report.

That came after Russia slashed gas flows to Europe – forcing countries to switch from historical routes sending gas east to west, to instead importing liquefied natural gas from elsewhere into western Europe and sending it eastwards.

Bottlenecks at LNG terminals and cross-border gas pipelines meant gas could not flow to where it was most needed during last year’s energy crisis – with the clogged system resulting in huge price differences between different regions.

As a result, gas transmission system operators received 3.4 billion euros in congestion revenues – more than 60 times more than in 2021.

Congestion revenue is the money network operators receive when they sell or auction capacity so that gas can flow between different market zones.

Of the EU’s roughly 200 relevant gas interconnection points, around a quarter became congested in 2022, ACER said, pointing to hotspots in Belgium, France and the Netherlands – all of which hiked their LNG imports in 2022.

ACER said the “massive” congestion income showed network operators must do more to relieve bottlenecks in the grid as they adapt to non-Russian routes.

Ways to cut congestion can include bringing back unused capacity to the market. Network operators are obliged to spend some congestion revenues on improving connections between gas zones.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by John Stonestreet

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