Image Source: Pledge Times
The EU has decided to control its natural gas supply in order to prevent a serious supply shock this winter. But by giving states a lot more leeway, the group has lowered its standards.
The voluntary target to reduce gas use by 15% between August and March 2023 was accepted on Tuesday by EU energy ministers. This decrease is measured against each country’s average gas consumption for the same months over the previous five years.
Last week, the EU Commission announced the 15% objective in its “Save Gas for a Safe Winter” strategy. The strategy also includes a proposal for a new law that, if put into effect, would give the EU Commission the power to compel governments to meet the necessary reduction targets in dire situations.
However, in light of some countries’ concerns during the past several days and their varying degrees of storage capacity and dependence on gas, the EU has been compelled to make significant concessions.
The mandatory demand reduction target of 15% will no longer apply to countries that are not connected to other members’ gas networks, according to the EU Council, the political union of the bloc, because “they would not be able to free up significant volumes of pipeline gas to the benefit of other member states.”
The Council also listed other instances, such as those in which states surpass their gas storage caps or disproportionately depend on gas to power critical businesses, that could allow the adjustment of the reduction target. To become law, the proposals still need to be endorsed by at least 15 of the bloc’s 27 members, or 65 percent of its total populace.
Separately, the Commission’s proposal to establish mandatory reduction objectives will require a different vote from the bloc.
The timing of the EU
The EU has been motivated to hunt for alternate energy sources and fast fill its gas storage tanks in time for winter by the very real danger that Moscow could cut off the supply.
Reducing Russian gas imports won’t be simple for many EU countries that have historically relied on Moscow’s supplies to power their homes and industries. According to the International Energy Agency, the country would provide about 45% of the bloc’s total gas imports in 2021.
It has come a long way thus far. The EU is already moving quickly to diminish its dependence on Moscow by expanding its imports of liquefied natural gas and promising to cut its usage of Russian gas by 66 percent before the end of the year.
The need for air conditioning has intensified, though, as a result of a historic heatwave that saw temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas of the continent last week.
According to Enagas, the manager of Spain’s gas transmission system, the demand for natural gas to produce electricity hit a new record of 800 gigawatt-hours earlier this month.
It may be challenging for Europe to replenish its supplies before the fall season, which will arrive in a few months due to high gas demand and severely reduced Russian flow rates.
The alliance wants at least 80% of member states’ gas tanks to be filled by November.
Gas Infrastructure Europe reports that they are presently 67 percent full. Compared to this time last year, that is a significant increase.But last week, Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, cautioned that Europe must prepare for a “long, horrible winter” and dubbed the situation “perilous.”
Suppose Russia stops exporting gas starting in October. In that case, the IEA expects that supply interruption will still happen early the next year, even if European countries can fill their gas reserves to 90% of their maximum levels.