EU Agrees Gas Security Rules
Any EU country facing an emergency gas shortage will be able to alert another member state of the impending supply crisis and trigger cross-border assistance to remedy it, under new cooperation rules informally agreed by the EU’s Parliament and Council negotiators overnight.
The accord was announced by both institutions early April 27, with a statement from the EU Council - which represents the 28 states - issued at 2.15am.
Once formally endorsed by both co-legislators, the revised ‘Security of Gas Supply Regulation’ will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days after publication, the European Commission (EC) said April 27.
The EC, which presented its proposal on February 16 2016, added that the agreement reached overnight “will put the EU in a better position to prepare for and manage gas shortages if a crisis occurs [and] for the first time, the solidarity principle will apply: member states will have to help neighbours out in the event of a serious crisis so that European households do not stay in the cold.”
EU commissioners Sefcovic (middle) and Arias Canete (right) presenting the original security of gas supply proposal on Feb.16 2016 (Photo credit: EC)
"Europe becomes better equipped to avoid and cope with eventual crises," said EC vice-president Maros Sefcovic April 27. He has responsibility for EU security of energy supplies.
“Through the solidarity mechanism, member states are obliged to help each other when there is a danger to the supply of gas to the most sensitive consumers - private households, hospitals, social services,” added European Parliament rapporteur on the gas proposal, Poland’s Jerzy Buzek.
The parliament added that the draft agreement establishes four “risk groups” of member states to serve as a basis for obligatory “risk associated cooperation -- replacing seven regional cooperation groups listed in the initial legislative proposal. It also includes three energy supply crisis levels that member states can trigger: early warning, alert, and emergency.
The EC added that, under the measures, gas companies will have to notify long-term contracts that are relevant for security of supply (28% of the annual gas consumption in any EU state).
Lessons learned from 2006, 2009 crises
After the gas crises of 2006 and 2009, triggered by a mid-winter near-halt in Russian gas westward flows, the EU reinforced its security of gas supply notably by adopting the first security of gas supply regulation in 2010; that already set rules on EU states about crisis prevention and mitigation, and obliged companies to ensure gas supply to protected customers in the event of supply disruption, and encouraged installation of bi-directional capacity
Gas covers around a quarter of the EU's energy demand. The EC noted in its Apr.27 statement that current annual EU gas demand of around 400bn m3 is projected to remain relatively stable in the coming years; around 65% of the EU's gas is imported (main suppliers being Russia, Norway and Algeria).
But new bi-directional pipeline capacity, and additional LNG import terminals, mean that the 28-nation bloc can now access gas from major gas supply sources, such as the US, that were not on the horizon a decade ago. Poland said it expects its first US LNG cargo to arrive in the first half of June. Additional EU gas grid flexibility has not only helped EU states: Ukraine has also managed to wean itself off over-dependence on Russian supplies.