Ensuring security of gas supply during the COVID-19 crisis
astora’s gas storage facilities play a crucial role for the energy supply in Germany and Europe. Our colleagues remain on the job at the storage sites during the coronavirus crisis.
The restrictions imposed by national governments because of the coronavirus pandemic have impacted countries around the world. In order to minimise the risks to employees’ health within the GPG Group and to counteract the further spread of the coronavirus, the majority of our colleagues in Germany and at other GPG Group locations have been working from home for the past several weeks. Working remotely, however, is not always an option.
This is especially true when the work in question involves the (continued) operation of facilities that help ensure the security of Germany’s energy supply, as is the case with the natural gas storage facilities operated by astora GmbH & Co. KG. Some astora employees must therefore continue to perform their activities on site at the facilities. Their ongoing presence ensures that customer contracts can be fulfilled without restrictions, even in these difficult times, and that safety-relevant expert inspections can be carried out on site.
Eduard Schmitke, astora’s Managing Director, emphasises that “astora’s gas storage facilities are part of the critical infrastructure in Germany and Europe, and are a crucial part of the energy supply that we must protect. Even in these difficult times, we comply with these restrictions to guarantee the smooth running of our storage business. Many thanks to all astora employees for their great commitment under difficult circumstances. We are all aware of our special responsibility to safeguard the energy supply.”
It is always necessary to have a plant operator and shift supervisor physically in the control room to react quickly to any malfunctions or changes in quantities. Unscheduled conditions must be identified and corrected.
Even so, the number of employees working on site has been reduced to an absolute minimum to ensure the highest level of safety for all colleagues. External companies, for example, cannot access the storage locations for the time being, and long-planned projects have been postponed, where possible. “In the current situation, it is really ambitious to maintain gas storage operating processes with reduced personnel”, says Jörg Werner, site manager at the Rehden storage facility.
Urgent issues, such as leaks and functionally restricting system defects, must sometimes be resolved by astora staff themselves.
Jörg Werner is proud of the entire team. “I have a great team here. Everyone is getting involved and sticking together to get astora through these unusual times. I hope that everyone in the GPG Group can continue to manage this crisis in the best possible way.”