EU ministers discuss gas cuts as Gazprom tightens squeeze | Energy News

European Union power ministers are assembly to debate an emergency proposal requiring member states to chop their gasoline use by 15 p.c from August to March within the face of issues in regards to the reliability of Russian provides within the coming winter.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gasoline big, introduced on Monday it was halting the operation of one of many final two working generators of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline because of the “technical situation of the engine”. Deliveries to Europe through the pipeline had been to be diminished to 33 million cubic metres a day – about 20 p.c of its capability – from Wednesday.

Final 12 months, Russian gasoline accounted for some 40 p.c of the EU’s imports of the power supply. Considerations within the bloc over power provides, particularly gasoline, have elevated as Russia curtailed deliveries in latest months amid the conflict in Ukraine, seen as retaliation for Western sanctions.

On Tuesday, EU power coverage chief Kadri Simson mentioned Gazprom’s announcement was “politically motivated”.

“We all know that there isn’t any technical motive to take action,” Simson mentioned upon arrival on the particular Vitality Council in Brussels on Tuesday, disputing the corporate’s claims.

“It is a politically motivated step, and we now have to be prepared for that. And precisely for that motive, the preemptive discount of our gasoline demand is a clever technique,” she added.

Final week, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned Gazprom “has at all times fulfilled and can fulfil all of its obligations”, including that “our companions are attempting to shift the blame for their very own errors to Gazprom with none foundation”.

In his nightly video tackle on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of utilizing restrictions in gasoline provide to inflict what he referred to as “terror” on Europe and urged the EU to agree harder sanctions in opposition to Russia.

“All that is finished by Russia on goal to make it as tough as attainable for Europeans to arrange for winter. And that is an open gasoline conflict that Russia is waging in opposition to a united Europe,” he mentioned. “And they don’t care what is going to occur to the individuals, how they are going to undergo, from starvation because of the blocking of ports, or from winter chilly and poverty. Or from occupation,” Zelenskyy added.

INTERACTIVE - Russian gas imports into the EU - Europe's reliance on Russian gas
(Al Jazeera)

The draft proposal put ahead by the European Fee final week envisioned voluntary targets, however the EU’s govt department might make them binding in a provide emergency.

The concept Brussels might impose cuts on nationwide economies was opposed by a number of EU members, together with Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Anna Moskwa, Poland’s minister of local weather and the setting, mentioned on Tuesday the proposal was “impartial” for her nation as a result of it included no binding targets.

Talking earlier than the talks in Brussels, Moskwa mentioned the Polish authorities was in opposition to assigning compulsory discount targets to nations.

“We can not settle for any selections which are imposed on nations,” she advised reporters. “Vitality safety is a nationwide prerogative.”

She added that gasoline storage websites in Poland had been full and that her nation had no must restrict gasoline utilization now.

She mentioned, nevertheless, that her authorities noticed air pollution prices below the EU carbon market as threatening power safety.

Spanish Vitality Minister Teresa Ribera mentioned upon arrival on the assembly that her authorities was against forcing customers and firms to chop their gasoline use, arguing the nation closely invested in infrastructure to import and re-export pure gasoline to the remainder of the EU.

“In contrast to different nations, we Spaniards haven’t lived past our means by way of power consumption,” she had mentioned final week, after the Fee printed its proposal.

Czech Trade Minister Jozef Sikela, whose nation holds the rotating EU presidency, echoed Simson’s remarks, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind Gazprom’s plan to chop gasoline deliveries to Europe.

“Putin will proceed to play his soiled video games in misusing and blackmailing gasoline provides,” Sikela mentioned as he arrived in Brussels.

The Gazprom reduce, he mentioned, “is simply a further … proof that we now have to take the sport in our fingers and we now have to scale back the dependencies on Russian provides as quickly as attainable”.

EU nations are anticipated to approve the proposal with opt-outs permitting them to observe completely different nationwide paths to arrange for Russian provide cuts.

Making the targets obligatory would significantly profit financial powerhouse Germany, which depends on Russian gasoline for a lot of its power manufacturing and would possibly need assistance from its neighbours.

German Economic system Minister Robert Habeck mentioned on Tuesday that approving the proposal can be a present of unity.

“After all, there are a number of compromises on this textual content now. That is the way in which Europe operates,” Habeck advised reporters in Brussels.

“It’s an important subsequent step. It exhibits that Europe stays united, that Europe is ready to discover unity,” he mentioned, including that the plan despatched a sign to “Putin and to Russia: ‘you gained’t cut up us’”.

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