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French gas storage brimming ahead of winter

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PARIS (Reuters) - France has sufficient gas in storage to see it through winter even in the event of an exceptionally cold snap, thanks in part to a sharp increase in the flow of liquefied natural gas (LNG), network operators GRTgaz and Terega said.

French gas storages are filled to the brim at 129 terawatt hour (TWh), their highest level in nine years, the operators said.

France has become an attractive destination for LNG flows and transit thanks to the completion of a pipeline linking north and southern France, its storage networks, LNG terminals and a unified gas market.

The operators said the completion of the Val de Saone gas pipeline and the creation of the single market Trading Region France last year, boosted French gas transit capacity by 42%, and smooth out the price difference between north and southern France.

LNG flows through the French network doubled in the past year, reaching 211 TWh at the end of October.

The operators said the influx of LNG helped push the French PEG gas price to its lowest since 2009 at below 8 euros ($8.82) a megawatt hour (MWh) in September.

"We are not worried about winter," Thierry Trouve, director general of GRTgaz, a unit of Engie, told a news conference. "Storages are full, and we can also send gas to Spain, Italy or Switzerland without any restrictions." ($1 = 0.9073 euros) (Reporting by Bate Felix, Editing by William Maclean)

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