Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

EU agrees to cut gas use over Russia supply fears

EU energy ministers have agreed for their countries to cut gas use in case Russia halts supplies.

Following talks on Tuesday, EU members agreed countries should voluntarily reduce gas use by 15 percent from August to March, reports BBC.  

"This was not a Mission Impossible!", tweeted the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

However, draft plans seen by the BBC suggest the deal had been watered down, with countries able to seek exemptions.

"In an effort to increase EU security of energy supply, member states today reached a political agreement on a voluntary reduction of natural gas demand by 15 percent this winter," the EU said.

"The purpose of the gas  demand reduction is to make savings ahead of winter in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia that is continuously using energy supplies as a weapon."

The deal states gas demand reduction would be become mandatory if a "Union alert" is announced if security of supply reaches crisis levels.

However, the EU said some countries not connected to other member states' gas pipe lines would be exempt from any mandatory gas reduction order as they would not be able to source alternative supplies.

States which are not hooked up to the European electricity system and are heavily reliant on gas for electricity production are also exempt, the EU said, in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis.

Countries can also request for rules to be relaxed if they exceed gas storage filling targets, if they are heavily dependent on gas for "critical" industries, or if their gas consumption has increased by at least 8% in the past year compared to the average of the past five years.

Numerous opt-outs were expected amid resistance from some member states.

The agreement comes after Russian energy firm Gazprom announced it had once again reduced gas flows into Germany to allow work on a turbine on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.