The European Commission put forth plans on July 20 asking EU member states to voluntarily cut natural gas consumption by 15 per cent until the spring of 2023 and accelerate work on supply diversification.
“The European Union faces the risk of further gas supply cuts from Russia, due to the Kremlin’s weaponisation of gas exports, with almost half of our member states already affected by reduced deliveries,” the Commission said in a statement.
Russia’s Gazprom cut off all gas deliveries to Bulgaria in April, citing Sofia’s refusal to pay in roubles as the reason, prompting Bulgaria’s government to step up efforts to diversify gas supply by finishing the gas inter-connector pipeline to Greece, contracting liquefied natural gas cargoes and increasing supplies of Azeri gas.
The Commission’s proposal envisions EU member states cutting gas consumption by 15 per cent between August 1 2022 and March 31 2023, focusing primarily on industrial consumers.
The EC said fuel substitution, with priority given to switching to renewable energy sources, and non-mandatory savings schemes, potentially incentivised using amended state aid guidelines, could be used by member states to accomplish the voluntary gas demand reduction target.
Households and essential social services such as hospitals and schools, would be exempt from any gas rationing measure.
Under the Commission’s proposal, member states would be required to update their existing national emergency plans by the end of September to include their planned demand-reduction measures to meet the 15 per cent target.
The Council of the EU has scheduled an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers for July 26, at which they were scheduled to “discuss the measures proposed by the Commission and brief each other on the current security of energy supply situation in their respective member states.”
(Photo: Jayesh Nair)
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