The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, plans to propose emergency powers that would include binding cuts in natural gas consumption in EU member states in case of supply emergencies such as a complete stop of Russian gas, Politico reports, quoting three EU diplomats.
Under the plan, EU member states could be given mandatory targets to conserve and reduce gas consumption in the coming months if gas supply shortages worsen.
The proposal is expected to be unveiled on Wednesday, when the European Commission will communicate measures to save gas ahead of the winter, according to Politico’s sources. The plan is expected to include a reduction of between 10 percent and 15 percent of gas consumption per member state, two of the EU diplomats told Politico.
Europe is increasingly concerned that it may have to resort to rationing gas supplies this winter, following the drastic reduction of Russian gas deliveries since the middle of June. Gas flows via Nord Stream, the key link from Russia to Germany, are stopped for regular two-week maintenance on the pipeline that ends on July 21. But Germany and other EU member states are concerned that Russia may not resume flows via Nord Stream once the maintenance period ends, or that it could further reduce supply.
Gazprom has reportedly declared force majeure on gas deliveries to at least one major customer in Europe, which could further worsen the gas row between the EU and Russia.
In a commentary on Monday, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said that Europe needs to take immediate steps to conserve gas and reduce its consumption to prevent much more drastic cuts and curtailments later on.
“We have seen some progress on this, particularly in terms of diversifying gas supplies – but not enough, especially on the demand side, to prevent Europe from finding itself in an incredibly precarious situation today,” Birol said yesterday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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