Temperature Verified: Gas Storage Scenario Update 17.01.23
A relatively mild January has further improved Germany's gas storage situation. I have also managed to verify my model using temperature data, the one major variable I can't predict.
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Since the last update, Germany and much of Europe has encountered a January with temperatures between 3-5°C above the average temperature for this time of the year. This warmer weather has caused the Germany gas storage percentage to more or less remain steady at around 90% since my last update. Germany’s gas stores are currently 89.87% full, though the working gas volume at storage sites has also marginally increased. This means that had the working gas volume remained the same since last update, gas storage would have been 90.06% full. Therefore the actual drop in storage percentage is less than it appears at first glance.
Once again looking back at my earlier predictions from November 14th, the current gas storage is well above even my optimistic scenario. My model does not take temperature into account as I have no way of accurately predicting or forecasting the average weekly temperature in Germany into the future. This means that the actual gas use will be more volatile than my models.
As this is the only major variable I am not able to include in my model and due to the fact that it is a variable that has a massive impacts on gas usage I decided to try to verify my model using the known temperature differences from the norm between November 14th and today. In order to do this I went back to my November 14th model and adjusted the Optimistic Scenario gas for this period of time with the variation in gas usage expected due to the actual temperature in the period using the data from the Federal Network Agency in this document (seen below).
Once I input these values into my model from November 14th, I was honestly shocked at just how close the Optimistic Scenario is to actual gas usage for the period. With my model know verified against temperature variation, I am more confident than ever that my model can provide a rather accurate prediction of gas usage scenarios. The temperature variations can of course only be used for historical data, as there is no way of predicting the temperature fluctuations.
For the latest scenario there have been no real major changes to the variables except some very minor tweaks that barely moved any actual numbers. As an experiment I have attempted to include the temperature prognosis one week into the future as a gas usage variable to see if this provides a more accurate model for the next week.
Currently the gas storage scenarios are once again in the best position they have been at any point. The weather over the last few months has made a massive difference in the current gas storage levels. If we compare to the November 14th model, Germany was predicted to be at 85% fill level instead of 89.87% as of the January 15th. The warmer weather has therefore reduced overall gas expenditure during this period by almost 38% above even the most optimistic scenario.
This very positive development has had the greatest impact on the worse case scenario where Germany continued to use gas in line with pre-crisis levels. Previously, had Germany continued its normal average gas consumption over the winter without any reductions from November 14th, gas levels would currently be at 64.96% instead of 89.87%. This massive improvement means that the worst case scenario of “no reduction in gas usage” has gone from a bottom of 23.5% in mid April to 47.11% in mid April. The worst case scenario now puts gas stores at 78.95% full on February 1st. This was the date where the Federal Network Agency back in November stated that 40% fill level on this date would be critical and between 40-55% would have serious consequences. Now even the most unrealistic worst case scenario puts gas stores at almost double this.
All other scenarios with some gas usage reductions mange to keep Germany at a very high level throughout the winter.
The gas situation in Germany has improved to a point where not only is it hard to image a scenario where Germany runs out of gas this winter without a serious reduction in imports, presumably through the sabotage of gas infrastructure. It is also hard to image a scenario where Germany even drops to the same levels as 2021 during the winter. At this point it appears that Germany may also end up in a good position going into winter 2023.
The “Optimistic scenario” has attempted adjust for the temperature related gas savings. With this adjustment, German households and businesses have saved around 22% gas compared to the 4 year average. At the same time German industry, which is less affected by weather and has a more stable gas consumption, has saved around 18%. For the optimistic scenario I have accounted for this, with a decrease in savings to 10% for households and 5% for industry from the beginning of April as the winter and immediate danger passes.
Barring any major crisis (import issues, sabotage, unusually cold weather) I continue to estimate that we will see a scenario between the blue and green dashed lines on the scenario graph. With the current forecasts for weather and gas usage, I don’t find it unrealistic that the actual use may beat even the “Optimistic Scenario”. This would mean a bottom in gas stores above 70% full in mid April. There is a very real chance that if the weather allows it, we may soon new record fill level at this time of the year.
In the coming week the temperature is expected to be 1.44°C below the norm, so I expect stores to drop down towards 85%. It is very likely that Germany will cross the February 1st line quite a bit above 80% full.
Additional information on my scenarios can be read here