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Europe needs to take immediate steps to conserve gas and reduce its consumption in order to prevent much more drastic cuts and curtailments later on, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said on Monday.
The agency has been warning for months that Europe needs to curtail gas consumption to avoid a difficult winter of energy rationing.
“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 in a commentary on Monday.
“Russia’s latest moves to squeeze natural gas flows to Europe even further, combined with other recent supply disruptions, are a red alert for the European Union. As we get closer to next winter, we are getting a clearer sense of what Russia may do next. The next few months will be critical,” he added.
At the end of last month, when Birol said that for the first time ever, the European Union imported in June more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States than gas via pipeline from Russia, he also warned that “The drop in Russian supply calls for efforts to reduce EU demand to prepare for a tough winter.”
As early as April this year, in cooperation with the European Commission, the IEA said that Europeans could help reduce EU reliance on Russian oil and gas with some changes in their lifestyle. Those measures include driving at lower speeds on highways, turning down the thermostat and using less air-conditioning, working from home, using public transport, and choosing trains over short-haul flights.
The five immediate EU-coordinated measures Birol outlined today include the create auction platforms to incentivize EU industrial gas users to reduce demand, minimize gas use in the power sector by boosting coal and oil-fired generation, improve coordination among gas and electricity operators across Europe, including on peak-shaving mechanisms, bring down household electricity demand by setting cooling standards and controls, and harmonize emergency planning across the EU at the national and European level.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com