The EU is urging Ireland to cut gas consumption by 15 percent next winter as a Russian supply disruption looks likely

The European Union has ordered Ireland and other member states to cut gas consumption by 15 percent by March amid Russian threats to curb, if not cut, supplies altogether.

Shipments of Russian gas – which accounted for 40 percent of consumption last year – were due to return to Germany today via a pipeline that was closed 11 days ago for routine maintenance. But amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and ongoing disputes over sanctions against Moscow, the prospect of a complete shutdown of gas supplies remains very likely.

The policy-leading EU Commission yesterday proposed a voluntary target for all EU countries to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent from August to March compared to the average consumption in these months in the years 2016-2021.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Moscow of “blackmailing” the EU over Ukraine’s use of energy supplies and warned Europe to prepare.

Ms von der Leyen’s proposals would ultimately empower Brussels to make the 15 percent cut to the target mandatory for governments in the event of a supply emergency, provided the EU declares a significant risk of severe gas shortages. However, the move needs the support of all EU states and will be discussed tomorrow so that ministers from the 27 member states could approve it next Tuesday 26 July.

Brussels officials said last night that a complete disruption to Russia’s gas supply this winter is now very likely.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland is not as dependent on Russian gas as other EU countries. But these EU gas supply problems will affect prices in the Irish market.

Mr Martin did not comment on the threat of gas rationing in Ireland. He said that discussions are ongoing at the EU level on all decisions related to Russian energy. “We certainly see issues with energy in terms of pricing as we move into the fall and deliver in terms of the broader European experience,” the Taoiseach said.

EU countries are currently trying to ensure that the stores are 80 per cent full by November 1st and it is believed that they are currently around two thirds full.

Brussels diplomats say Russia is using technical problems as an excuse to cut supplies, but Russia argues it is a reliable energy supplier and blames reduced flows on sanctions.

Russian sources said gas pipeline flows to Germany would resume later today but indicated they would be lower than previous levels. The cuts in recent weeks have been attributed to delays in servicing some equipment in Canada and routine maintenance work on a main pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Erratic supplies caused prices to soar, putting pressure on utility companies and even triggering bankruptcies. In Germany, the government wants to inject billions of euros into the largest buyer of Russian gas, Uniper.

Siemens Energy said servicing turbines for Nord Stream 1 is usually a routine matter. The EU is urging Ireland to cut gas consumption by 15 percent next winter as a Russian supply disruption looks likely

Fry Electronics Team

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