European governments ready steps in if Russian gas supplies stop

Many European countries have plans in place for managing gas supply, and even rationing power in the event that Russian gas flows cease after supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline are curtailed.

Last week, Russian gas supplies to Europe via the pipeline were cut and Moscow warned that delays in repairs could result in all flow being suspended.

The European Union has regulations to respond to and prevent disruptions in gas supplies. It defines three levels of crisis: emergency, alert, and early warning. Each member state must have plans in place to manage the effects of supply disruptions at each level.

Governments can only intervene in an emergency if market-based solutions are not sufficient to supply essential services to households or customers.

Below is an alphabetical listing of the actions taken by European governments.

AUSTRIA

Austria, which imports around 80% of its gas from Russia has initiated the first stage of a three-stage emergency response plan. It is also looking at diversifying gas supply options and will convert a coal-fired power station to produce electricity from gas.

BULGARIA

The country, which gets more than 90% of its gas from Russia, has reached an agreement to buy U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and has intensified talks with Azerbaijan in order to increase gas supplies.

CZECH REPUBLIC

CEZ stated that it had replaced Russian Gazprom’s reduction in gas deliveries with volumes from other sources.

DENMARK

The Danish energy agency has said that it activated the first stage of a three-stage emergency plan for gas supplies. The agency said that gas supplies are guaranteed at the moment, but encouraged consumers and businesses to cut down on their consumption.

FRANCE

GRTgaz, a French operator of the gas transport network, stated in April that it had put in place measures to restrict gas supply to customers in case of shortages and urged shippers to ensure underground storage is stocked for next winter.

These measures enable the company to issue orders within two hours to reduce or interrupt gas consumption to large consumers connected through its network and to request distribution system operators to do so in the event there is a shortage.

Russia supplies France with around 20% of its natural gas.

GERMANY

Germany, which is dependent on Russia for 55% of its gas requirements, has entered Phase 2 in its three-stage emergency plan, but it isn’t yet activating a clause that allows utilities to pass on the rising gas prices to customers.

When the government believes there is a high chance of severe gas shortages, Phase 2 will kick in. Germany will offer a credit line to Germany of 15 billion euros (£15.8 billion), in order to fill gas storage tanks. To encourage industrial gas users to save gas, a gas auction model will launch this summer.

GREECE

A contingency plan would allow Greece to get more LNG and convert four of its gas-fired power plants to diesel under an additional supply. As a temporary measure, it will also increase coal mining over the next two years.

ITALY

Italy, which imports around 40% of its gas from Russia, has announced the first steps to increase gas storage and plans to maximize the use of coal-fired power stations if necessary to save gas.

Italy asked Snam, the operator of the gas grid, to take measures to bring gas stocks to their June target level.

NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands will activate its early warning phase of the energy crisis plan and lift a limit on coal-fired power plant production. Russia imports 15% of the country’s gas.

POLAND

A law on mandatory reserves requires that Poland’s climate ministry submits to the government a formal motion in case of supply security risk. The government will then limit gas use to protect households and industry. Poland receives around half of its annual gas consumption from Russia.

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

Russia is not a major provider for any of the Iberian countries.

SWEDEN

Sweden also activated the first phase of the three-part emergency plans


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