BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A dozen European Union countries have been hit by gas supply cuts from Russia, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said on Thursday, as the bloc grapples with an energy standoff. ever deeper with Moscow.
Russia cut flows through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 40% of capacity last week citing equipment problems as it had cut off gas to Poland, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland over their refusal to comply. with a new payment scheme.
Timmermans said that 10 of the 27 EU member countries have issued an “early warning” on gas supplies, the first and least serious of three levels of crisis identified in the EU’s energy security rules.
“The risk of a complete gas outage is now more real than ever,” he said.
He repeated Brussels’ claim that Russia has weaponized energy supplies. Russia has denied that the cuts are premeditated.
The EU depended on Russia for 40% of its gas before Moscow invaded Ukraine. With Russian supply declining and gas prices rising, some countries have increased their use of coal-fired power plants, although they insist this is temporary and will not defeat climate change goals.
Germany will enter the second emergency gas alert on Thursday, sources told Reuters. Europe’s leading economy activated the first stage of its emergency plan in March.
EU countries must have plans to manage three levels of gas supply crises: an early warning, an alert and an emergency.
The “early warning” stage focuses on monitoring supplies, while an “alarm” theoretically allows utilities to pass on high prices to consumers and help reduce demand. The “emergency” level allows governments to force the industry to reduce activity to save gasoline.
Russia’s cuts have raised concerns that Europe will struggle to fill gas storage, now 55% full, enough to deal with more supply crises during the peak winter heating season. The EU agreed last month to an emergency law that requires countries to fill gas storage to 80% by November 1 this year.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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