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Energy crisis: Brussels wants to reduce EU gas consumption by 15% | War in Ukraine

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In order to get through the winter without a major disaster, the European Commission has prepared an arsenal of measures allowing the EU27 to deal with a possible disruption of Russian supplies – which constituted some 40% of their gas imports last year.

Russia uses gas as a weapon. In the event of a total disruption, Europe will have to be readysaid the president of the European executive, Ursula von der Leyen.

The Twenty-Seven are notably suspended from restarting the Nord Stream gas pipeline, through which passes a third of Russian gas deliveries toEU and closed since July 11 for routine maintenance. Moscow had slashed its deliveries by 60% in June via this line.

However, President Vladimir Putin wondered on Wednesday about the state of a gas pipeline turbine repaired in Canada and currently in transit in Germany, after suggesting that Nord Stream could only restart at 20% of its capacity. The German operator Gascade, however, assured to foresee a recovery as of Thursday at the level ofbefore maintenancei.e. 40% of capacity.

Faced with uncertainties about Russian supplies, the Brussels plan – which still has to be validated by the Member States – provides that each country will have to Do everything possible to reduce, between August 2022 and March 2023, its gas consumption by at least 15% compared to the average of the last five years over the same period.

The States will have to detail their roadmap by the end of September. Some, like Finland and the Netherlands, have already reached the target.

In case of risk of serious shortageBrussels would like to be able to activate an alert mechanism – after consulting the States – which would make binding for the Twenty-Seven the reduction of 15%.

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This plan, which will be examined on July 26 by European energy ministers, is the subject of strong reservations from several states, including Poland and Spain. We will oppose the imposition of obligations, in terms of effort, above what corresponds to usa measure ni just neither efficientthundered Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera.

It’s necessary act now so as not to have to urgently in much more catastrophic circumstanceshowever, warned Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Frans Timmermans speaks at a lectern.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, believes that it is necessary to “act now” to avoid disasters, rather than doing it urgently.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / JOHN THYS

Our file War in Ukraine

A difficult winter to predict

Despite an increase in gas imports from Norway, Azerbaijan and Algeria and a tripling since March of shipments of American liquefied natural gas, Europeans fear a difficult winter.

Ms Von der Leyen estimated that it would be possible to reduce annual gas consumption in the EU by around 45 billion cubic metres. For comparison, Russia had supplied in 2021 some 155 billion cubic meters to the Twenty-Seven.

About 11 billion cubic meters could be saved by reducing heating or air conditioning, with restrictive measures for public and commercial buildings (an initial plan consulted by AFP suggested capping heating at 19 degrees), as well as communication campaigns aimed at households to encourage them to lower the thermostat by 1 degree.

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Some 11 billion cubic meters could still be saved by making greater use of renewable energies and 7.2 billion cubic meters by reducing industrial consumption, which has already faltered under the effect of soaring prices.

A blurred figure walks past the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project logo on a pipe at the factory.

Moscow’s cut in gas supplies is worrying countries in the European Union, where the idea of ​​rationing measures is approaching.

Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

The protected customers (households, social services, hospitals, SME, whose supply is guaranteed) represent less than 37% of total gas consumption. The Commission is therefore particularly targeting the consumption of power stations and industry.

For power generation, priority must be given to renewable energies, but the use of coal, oil and nuclear power may prove to be necessary on a temporary basisrecognizes Brussels, which asks countries wishing to give up the civilian atom to postpone their plans to close nuclear power plants.

For manufacturers, the text recalls alternative solutions (switching to biomass or biomethane, electrification of certain machines) and suggests that States establish auction systems that would provide businesses with offsets in exchange for a reduction in consumption.

The Commission wants to avoid plant closures and the loss of machinery that could be destroyed in the event of a total shutdown, while preserving the production of essential goods (pharmaceuticals) and helping sectors with reduced room for manoeuvre, such as chemicals which uses gas as a raw material.

A complex equation: production cuts imposed on companies would have disastrous economic effects and an often irreversible impactwarned the European employers’ organization BusinessEurope on Wednesday.

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