July 11 (Reuters) – European countries are putting plans in place to manage gas supply and even ration power in case Russian gas flows stop completely or a planned outage at the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is extended.
Russian gas supply to Europe via Nord Stream 1 was curtailed to 40% of capacity last month and Moscow said more delays in repairs could lead it to suspend all flows. read more
Planned annual maintenance outage begins on July 11 and will last until July 21 but there are concerns that it could be extended. read more
The European Union has rules to prevent and respond to a disruption in gas supplies. It sets out three levels of crisis: an early warning, alert and emergency. Member states are required to have plans in place for how they would manage the impact of a supply disruption at the three crisis levels.
In an emergency, governments can intervene only if market-based measures are insufficient to ensure supplies to households and to customers providing essential services.
The EU executive said it will present a plan on preparedness for more gas cuts from Russia to leaders in July.
Following is a summary of actions by individual European governments (in alphabetical order):
Austria, which gets around 80% of its gas from Russia, has activated the first step of a three-stage emergency plan. It will order industry and utilities to make plants run on alternatives to natural gas where possible.
The country, which meets over 90% of its gas needs from Russia, has agreed to purchase U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has stepped up talks with Azerbaijan to increase gas deliveries.
The government has backed a bill that would allow the ministry to put in place measures to prevent an emergency in the heating sector and could allow coal-fired plants that are set to be shut down next year due to breaching emission limits to continue to operate.
Denmark’s energy agency said it has activated the first step of a three-stage emergency gas supply plan. It said gas supplies were guaranteed for now but urged consumers and companies to reduce consumption.
Finland and the Baltic states will postpone summer maintenance on a major gas pipeline to help secure supplies.
France is working on contingency plans for cuts to Russian gas flows as top bosses at energy companies urge individuals and businesses to reduce power use. read more
France is less reliant than some of its neighbours on gas imports from Russia, which account for about 17% of its gas consumption.
Germany, which relies on Russia for 55% of its gas needs, has entered Phase 2 of its three-stage emergency gas plan.
The Phase 2 “alarm stage” kicks in when the government sees a high risk of long-term supply shortages of gas. Under the plan, Germany will provide a credit line of 15 billion euros ($15.8 billion) to fill gas storage facilities. A gas auction model will be launched this summer to encourage industrial gas consumers to save gas.
Under a contingency plan, Greece, which uses gas mainly for power generation, would get additional quantities of LNG and switch four gas-fired plants to diesel. It will also ramp up coal mining in the next two years as a temporary measure.
A long-delayed gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria has been completed and can start commercial operations this month. read more
Italy, which gets around 40% of its gas needs from Russia, announced initial measures to boost gas storage this week and plans to maximise the use of coal-fired power plants if needed to save gas.
The Netherlands will activate the early warning phase of its energy crisis plan and lift a cap on production by coal-fired power plants. It imports 15% of its gas from Russia.
The Groningen gas field could also be used to help supply neighbouring countries but increasing production could risk earthquakes.
Poland doesn’t plan to initiate its 12-step emergency procedure that leads to gas rationing. Poland’s current gas balancing position is supported by an LNG terminal running at full capacity and lower summer demand, partly in response to high prices.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
Neither country on the Iberian peninsula counts Russia among its main providers.
Sweden has also activated the first stage of the three-part emergency plan. read more