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EU Ministers Sign Off On Voluntary Gas Cuts

European Union energy ministers agreed to a watered-down version of a Commission proposal to reduce gas consumption across the block by 15 percent starting August and ending next March.

Some EU members would be allowed a lower rate of consumption cuts as they prepare for lower Russian gas flows, Reuters reported.

The agreement comes after days of intense discussions, after the European Commission proposed last week a 15-percent voluntary consumption cut, to be made mandatory in case of a gas supply emergency.

A dozen EU members, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Denmark, spoke out against mandatory gas consumption cuts, with Spain's ecological transition minister, Teresa Ribera, saying last week, "Unlike other countries, the Spanish population has not lived above our means from an energy standpoint."

One unnamed European diplomat described the situation during the discussions of the EC proposal as "a total mess".

"While coordination in the spirit of solidarity is indispensable, it cannot be used as a tool for 'mutualising the consequences' of prolonged, systematic over-dependence of some countries on Russian gas and lack of investments in diversification," the diplomat added, as quoted by Euronews earlier this week.

The agreement comes as Russia's Gazprom warned that it will further cut gas flows to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from tomorrow, saying it had to halt another turbine while it awaits the return of the now notorious piece of equipment that had to be delivered by Canada amid new anti-Russian sanctions agreed by the federal government of Justin Trudeau.

Flows via Nord Stream 1 are now at 40 percent of capacity, which will be reduced to 20 percent starting tomorrow.

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Per the final version of the agreement, countries and industries would be exempt from the cuts should they become mandatory due to the opposition of some member states to the original proposal.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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