PARIS -- France has for the first time started sending natural gas to Germany, French gas network operator GRTgaz said Thursday, as Berlin strives to diversify its energy supply following the interruption of Russian gas deliveries.
GRTgaz said the gas pipeline connecting both countries at the French border village of Obergailbach has began delivering an initial daily capacity of 31 gigawatt-hours.
The amount is expected to eventually increase to a daily maximum of 100 gigawatt-hours, representing less than 2% of Germany's overall gas consumption, according to figures from the French Ministry for Energy Transition.
The head of Germany’s network regulatory agency, Klaus Mueller thanked GRTGaz in French in a tweet Thursday, adding that “French gas deliveries via Saarland help Germany’s supply security.”
Although Germany’s gas storage facilities are now nearly 95% full, officials say citizens will still need to save gas this winter.
The move comes as Germany and other European countries seek to diversify gas imports after Russia choked off the supplies of cheap natural gas that the continent depended on for years to run factories, generate electricity and heat homes.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last month that France and Germany agreed to an energy solidarity deal. France would help Germany with gas supply, while Germany would generate more electricity to supply France during times of peak consumption.
The French government has expressed concerns over potential electricity shortages during the winter as 25 of France's 56 nuclear reactors are now shut down for usual maintenance and, in some cases, to repair corrosion problems. The government said that EDF, which is operating France's nuclear plants, has committed to restart all of them by this winter.
France imports nearly all its natural gas from abroad, mostly from Norway and other countries including The Netherlands, Algeria and Nigeria via pipelines and via tanker terminals. The French Energy Regulatory Commission announced earlier this month that its gas reserves are 100% full in anticipation of winter.
France relies on nuclear energy for about 67% of its electricity — more than any other country — and on gas for about 7%.
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