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UK Could Cut Gas Links To Europe If Severe Shortages Occur

The UK is considering cutting off gas supply via two interconnectors to mainland Europe under an emergency plan that would be triggered in case of severe gas shortages in Britain, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

Under the UK’s emergency plan to cope with gas shortages, National Grid could stop sending gas via the two-way pipelines to Europe, one to Belgium and another one to the Netherlands. During the summer, the UK typically sends gas to Europe via the pipelines, while it imports gas via those same pipelines during the winter.  

The idea of shutting off supply to Europe would be one of the early stages in a four-stage emergency plan to cope with potential severe gas shortages in the coming months, FT reports.

Gas system operators in Europe warned against such a measure, saying that the pipelines send gas to the UK in the winter.

“Because while it is beneficial for the continent in the summer it is also beneficial for the UK in the winter,” Bart Jan Hoevers, president of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, told FT.

Major gas consumers in mainland Europe are already preparing for an emergency in the gas market, especially after Russia significantly lowered earlier this month gas supply to major customers, including Germany and Italy.

Most EU members expect the situation to deteriorate further. Last week, Germany triggered the second phase of its three-phase gas emergency plan as it braces up for the possibility of a complete halt of gas supplies from Russia via the Nord Stream pipeline.

Nord Stream is also slated for regular maintenance for two weeks in July, which will halt gas deliveries via the pipeline. EU members fear that the maintenance could be an excuse from Russia to further lower or completely stop supply.

Russian gas deliveries to Europe are now down by 70% compared to this time last year, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy, said on Tuesday. Stocks levels trail the five-year average, and rationing and demand destruction could be on the horizon, he added.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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