Greece, Portugal come out against EU's 15% gas cut goal
National leadership in Portugal and Greece both oppose an EU proposal that would encourage a 15% gas usage reduction across member states by March 2023, according to media reports.
Under the European Commission's proposal, made on July 20, EU member states would voluntarily downscale gas consumption, starting from August this year. The proposal is a response to the threat of Russia cutting off gas supply to Europe completely.
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Portuguese energy secretary Joao Galamba said Portugal was "totally against" the proposal. Athens, meanwhile, has made a series of alternative proposals to bring gas prices down and shore up supplies, according to Reuters.
As a last resort if Russian gas flows are disrupted, Athens recently unveiled a plan to rotate power outages between different Greek regions, suggesting it does not believe a voluntary reduction would work. The Greek proposals include an EU-wide cap to contain wholesale power rates, and to encourage aggregated gas supply deals between multiple customers, applying economies of scale to price agreements.
Lisbon's opposition reflects extreme summer droughts this year that have wreaked havoc at Portuguese hydro dams. As such, it believes Portugal cannot afford any measure that harms supply from its gas-fired power stations, which will act as Portugal's baseload and reserve. Hydropower dams account for roughly 40% of annual Portuguese power output, and the country has around 60 dams of varying sizes.
Galamba is pressing Brussels to account for his country's situation and that of neighbouring Spain, which also has hydropower concerns. The Iberian peninsula has access to plenty of LNG through Spanish and Portuguese ports, and also has piped gas connections to North Africa, meaning it has less need for Russian supplies. Given their unique situation regarding Russian gas, Galamba says the 15% voluntary measure would be "disproportionate" and "unsustainable."
"It does not take into account the differences between countries. This cannot apply to Portugal," he said.
Elsewhere in Europe, Hungary and Russia have launched negotiations to potentially redirect all of Budapest's gas quota through the TurkStream pipeline, which runs to Hungary via Serbia. In recent days, Hungary has received half of its 32 to 33mn m3/day Russian gas flow TurkStream, amid disruption at the alternative route through neighbouring Austria. Budapest therefore believes the TurkStream option is the most "stable, predictable and secure", according to Reuters.