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Berlin, Germany's capital, and other cities have started turning off the spotlights on historic monuments and municipal buildings in an effort to conserve energy ahead of winter.
"In view of the war against Ukraine and Russia's energy policy threats, it is important that we use our energy as carefully as possible," Berlin's environment senator, Bettina Jarasch said, as quoted by Insider.
Munich is also starting to turn off its spotlights, while Hanover has gone a big step further, turning off the hot water in all public buildings to conserve energy.
"The situation is unpredictable," according to the mayor of the city.
The conservation push comes as the European Union approved a plan proposed by the Commission to reduce gas consumption across the bloc by 15 percent between August and March next year to avoid the worst fallout of a potential Russian decision to turn off all the gas taps for Europe in retaliation for sanctions.
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."
Germany, meanwhile, has appealed for solidarity and has already closed solidarity agreements with a few of its neighbors in a bid to secure some gas supply for the winter in case of cuts.
Meanwhile, Gazprom has cut the flow along Nord Stream 1 to Germany to 20 percent of capacity, citing fresh turbine maintenance problems as it awaits the return of a turbine that was sent for maintenance in Canada earlier this year.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com
The dilemma facing Germany and the rest of the EU is that at current levels of reduced Russian gas supplies, it will never be able to fill its gas storage even by half by November 2022 even with a voluntary 15% reduction of consumption. However, if Russia does halt supplies, then the only probability is that the Europeans will freeze this winter if it is a harsh one.
It is high time for the EU to understand that Russian gas supplies are irreplaceable now or in 20 years from now and that the more sanctions it imposes on Russia the deeper the economic hole into which it digs itself.
No one single gas producer or a group of producers including the United States, Qatar, Australia and Algeria combined can replace Russian gas supplies now or for the foreseeable future. Moreover, there are no alternatives to Russian gas.
Against this background, Europe won’t have enough gas in storage for this coming winter. Sever rationing, soaring energy bills and civil riots could become commonplace.
Meanwhile, gas prices are headed to the stratosphere and could reach a level beyond the affordability for many industrial users in Europe. This will bring the EU economy to the brink of collapse if not total collapse.
The only viable course of action is for the EU to reach some sort of a rapprochement with Russia and this means lifting the sanctions in exchange for plentiful and cheap supplies of Russian gas.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert