The European Union is set to present contingency plans on Wednesday to slash gas demand within months, and countries are warning that without deep cuts they could now be scrambling for fuel in the winter if Russia halts supplies.
Europe is scrambling to fill up its gas storage facilities ahead of winter and build up a supply buffer in case Moscow cuts supplies further in retaliation for European support for Ukraine in its war with Russia. Russia’s Gazprom has already stopped deliveries to some EU countries.
The European Commission will ask countries to prepare for possible further cuts by cutting gas consumption. A draft of the EU plan, seen by Reuters, would propose a voluntary target for countries to cut their gas demand over the next eight months, which could be made legally binding in the event of a supply emergency.
EU officials said the target is a 10 to 15 percent reduction in gas use.
The proposal, which could change before it is published, would have to be approved by EU countries, which are largely responsible for their own energy policies.
There has been opposition from SME countries who believe their contingency plans do not need a boost from Brussels.
“We are against binding reduction targets,” said Polish climate minister Anna Moskwa last week. Poland has filled its gas storage facility to 98 percent capacity after Russia halted gas supplies to the country in April.
But EU officials say it’s crucial to act now rather than wait to react if Russia cuts supplies.
“We believe full disruption is likely, and it’s particularly likely if we don’t act and make ourselves vulnerable to it,” one said. “If we wait, it will be more expensive and we will dance to Russia’s tune.”
The draft document said a full Russian gas shutdown combined with a cold winter could cut average EU GDP by 0.9-1.5 percent if countries hadn’t prepared for it.
It proposed measures to curb gas consumption, including government tenders for industry to compensate for reduced gas consumption. Governments should also determine the order in which they would force industries to shut down in a supply emergency, it said.
Gas deliveries through Russia’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany are scheduled to resume on Thursday after annual maintenance.
There have been fears among governments that rivers will not start up again, exacerbating a gas crisis that has been sending up consumer bills. Sources told Reuters flows would likely resume, but below full capacity.
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/bracing-for-russian-gas-cuts-eu-to-ask-countries-to-cut-demand-41854207.html The EU is preparing for Russian gas cuts and is urging countries to curb demand