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    European Commission proposes 15% cut in gas use from August


Brussels is urging member states to maintain the reduction until the end of March.

by: NGW

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European Commission proposes 15% cut in gas use from August

The European Commission has proposed that member states reduce their gas consumption by 15% from the start of next month until the end of March next year, in order to conserve supply during the winter amid the looming threat of a complete cut-off in gas shipments from Russia.

As part of the Save Gas for a Safe Winter plan, the proposal calls on all consumers, public administrations, households, owners of public buildings, power suppliers and industry to take appropriate measures to save gas. While currently this would only involve voluntary reductions, the regulation that Brussels is proposing would enable it to declare a "Union Alert" when the risk of a gas shortage is acute, meaning it could impose mandatory cuts on member states.

Member states are also required to update their national emergency plans by the end of September to show how they intend to reduce demand, and report on their progress to the commission every two months. Those that want to secure supply from their neighbours, making use of the solidarity principle in EU energy regulation, must first show they have taken measures domestically to conserve gas.

The commission has adopted a European Gas Demand Reduction Plan, which sets out the measures, principles and criteria for coordinating the reduction in demand. It focuses on substituting gas with other fuels and making energy savings across all sectors, in order to ensure households and essential users like hospitals and essential industries get the supply they need.

Where possible, the commission states that member states should switch from gas to renewables, but it notes that expanding the use of coal, oil or nuclear may also be necessary. Brussels also wants to see member states launch public awareness campaigns to encourage the public to cut their use of heating and cooling, and suggests they could mandate reductions in buildings operated by public authorities.

Russian gas supply to Europe has already fallen to a record low, and Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters on July 20 that exports via the Nord Stream 1 would be further restricted even after the pipeline comes back online after ten days of routine annual maintenance on July 21. The Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper has reported that a Siemens turbine needed for Nord Stream to run properly that had been sent off for repairs in Canada may not arrive and be ready to operate until the end of this month. But some experts warn that this is a red herring, as Gazprom could simply divert gas flow to routes through Poland and Ukraine to offset any restriction in capacity at Nord Stream.