The European Union's natural gas reserves are nearing capacity as it stocks up for the winter months.
The EU had set itself a target to reach 90 percent storage capacity for natural gas by November. It's blown past that goal and according to Gas Infrastructure Europe, the bloc's gas holding facilities are nearly 99 percent full.
The EU has pivoted away from Russian energy since the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine last February, prompting the bloc to stockpile natural gas in an effort to keep prices low, avoid supply disruptions and better absorb market shocks.
According to researchers, fossil fuels accounted for 33 percent of the EU's energy in the first half of the year, the lowest level since such record-keeping began back in 1990.
Warmer weather, more energy-conscious consumers and rising prices have all contributed to a drop in electricity demand but the European Union wants to be in a position to weather its energy needs heading into winter.
Euro firms turn to Ukraine for storage – but security a concern
The EU can currently store close to 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and analysts say that could last roughly two-and-a-half months of peak demand this winter. To increase storage capacity, many firms are turning to Ukraine – which boasts Europe's largest tanks for natural gas.
State energy firm Naftogaz has offered around a third of its storage capacity, which amounts to about 10 billion cubic meters, to foreign companies. Ukraine has offered incentives such as custom duty exemptions and cheap tariffs to help offset security concerns – acknowledging that European firms would be taking what Naftogaz CEO Oleksiy Chernyshov calls a "pure commercial risk" by using Ukrainian storage facilities.
Naftogaz says 128 of its facilities have been damaged in Russian attacks so far this year, but the storage tanks are predominantly located deep underground and in the west of the country away from the front lines.
Officials say over two billion cubic meters of EU controlled gas is currently being held in Ukraine. "Commercial companies have put more than €1 billion ($1.05bn) value (of gas) into Ukrainian storage," said Chernyshov, despite "being in a full-scale war regardless of anything."
Some European companies are also using tanker ships as floating storage sites in a bid to boost capacity as we head into winter. According to some analysts, 21 tankers are currently located off European coasts being used as floating liquified natural gas storage sites.