Dutch government to decide on filling Norg gas storage above current 80%

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AMSTERDAM, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The Dutch government is expected to make a decision this month on whether to fill the country's largest gas storage facility further, officials said on Tuesday.

All Dutch gas storage facilities are currently about 70% full on average and have been filling up in recent weeks in line with meeting a European Union goal of being 80% full by November.

Filling of the biggest facility, the Norg storage plant near the Groningen gas field, has been temporarily paused after it reached the 80% mark, at approximately 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, a spokesperson for the Economic Affairs Ministry said.

The Dutch Cabinet has previously indicated it wishes Dutch gas storages to be filled beyond 80% due to uncertainty caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but it has not detailed a plan or specified how that will be financed.

The Cabinet in April estimated the costs of having Norg, which is owned by a Shell/Exxon consortium, filled by 5 bcm this year at roughly 6 billion euros ($6.11 billion).

Jan Hendrik Annema, a spokesperson for GasTerra, the gas trader that buys and sells gas on behalf of the Dutch government, said Norg would require another 1.2 bcm to be filled to capacity.

He said discussions were underway for a target "in any case to a higher level than now. That level and the conditions are the focus of the discussions."

He estimated the cost, at current gas prices, to purchase the gas needed to fill the facility to capacity at 2.5 billion-3 billion euros.

The government is separately subsidizing companies to fill the 4.1 bcm gas storage facility at Bergermeer, which is currently around 57% full. ($1 = 0.9828 euros) (Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling; Editing by Susan Fenton)