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EU Energy Council To Debate Two Options To Curb Energy Prices

A minister spearheading efforts by the EU's Czech presidency to cope with spiking energy prices amid Russia's war with Ukraine says the EU Energy Council will debate two proposals when it meets late this week.

Czech officials have called a special meeting of the council for September 9 as fears mount of debilitating fuel shortages this winter, brought on by international sanctions and Russian countermeasures.

Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said on September 6 that one option envisages decoupling the price of natural gas from the price charged by the power plant that converts gas to electricity and thus normally sets the price to consumers.

"This would mean that the high gas prices that are the subject of the energy war do not affect electricity prices," Síkela said, according to Czech agency CTK.

Sikela said the alternative proposal seeks to establish maximum prices for the production of all electricity except that which requires gas -- so essentially capping the price of energy from nuclear fuel, coal, and renewable sources.

The Czechs are aiming to produce a document by September 7 that presents all 27 EU members' respective views on the proposals.

Since G7 and other Western leaders raised the idea of a price cap on Russian gas imports, Moscow has repeatedly threatened cutoffs beyond the scattered -- but quickly mounting -- suspensions it has already imposed on exports to Europe.

Russia's share of gas imports to the EU had already declined from around 45 percent a year ago to around 30 percent in April.

But the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air recently estimated that Russia still earned some $157 billion in revenues from fossil-fuel exports in the first six months of the conflict -- more than half of it ($85 billion) from the European Union.

Russian state monopoly Gazprom has cut off some countries completely since the Russian invasion began in February.

Then last week it halted the flow of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that used to supply about one-third of Russian gas to Europe over an alleged "repair" that its German partner says shouldn't affect supplies.

In Vladivostok on September 6, Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov said Russia would respond to Western price caps by sending more of its energy to Asia.

Sikela said the Czech Republic, like most members, also continues to seek solutions on a national level.

By RFE/RL

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