EU agrees to curb gas use as Russia squeezes supply

Published July 27, 2022
AN employee works near gas pipes at the gas compressor station of Bulgartransgaz in Ihtiman, Bulgaria.—AFP
AN employee works near gas pipes at the gas compressor station of Bulgartransgaz in Ihtiman, Bulgaria.—AFP

BRUSSELS: European Union countries approved a weakened emergency plan to curb their gas demand, after striking compromise deals to limit the cuts for some countries, as they brace for further Russian reductions in supply.

Europe faces an increased gas squeeze from Wedne­sday, when Russian’s Gazp­rom has said it would cut flows through the Nord Stre­­am 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of capacity.

With a dozen EU countries already facing reduced Russian supplies, Brussels is urging member states to save gas and store it for winter for fear Russia will completely cut off flows in retaliation for Western sanctions over its war with Ukraine.

Energy ministers approved a proposal for all EU countries to voluntarily cut gas use by 15 per cent.

Hungary is the only country that opposed the deal, say EU officials

The cuts could be made binding in a supply emergency, but countries agreed to exempt numerous countries and industries, after some governments had resisted the EU’s original proposal to impose a binding 15pc cut on every country.

German Economy Minis­ter Robert Habeck said the agreement would show Russian President Vlad­imir Putin that Europe remained united in the face of Moscow’s latest gas cuts.

“You will not split us,” Habeck said.

Hungary was the only country that opposed the deal, two EU officials said.

Russia’s Gazprom has blamed its latest reduction on needing to halt the operation of a turbine — a reason dismissed by EU energy chief Kadri Simson, who called the move “politically motivated”.

Russia, which supplied 40pc of EU gas before it invaded Ukraine, has said it is a reliable energy supplier.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2022

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