'No indication' that Russian gas supply to Belgium will also be stopped

'No indication' that Russian gas supply to Belgium will also be stopped
Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (left) and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured during a visit to the Siemens Gamesa site, during the North Sea Summit, with Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, in the port of Ejsberg, Denmark, Wednesday 18 May 2022. Credit: Belga/Philip Reynaers

As Russia's state-owned gas company Gazprom shut off its supply to the Netherlands today, Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten stressed that there will be "no impact" on Belgium.

Just like when Russia shut off its gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria at the end of April, the Belgian supply of natural gas is still assured now that the same is happening to the Netherlands, said Van der Straeten.

"At the moment there are no indications that delivery to Belgium will also stop," she said. "But Belgium is fully prepared. Prevention is better than cure."

"We can already protect ourselves better by organising the joint purchase of gas at the European level, speeding up the energy transition and focusing on energy saving," said Van der Straeten.

"More renewable energy and energy saving is good for the wallet and bad for Putin," she added, underlining that "this sad escalation by Russia" once again shows how Europe's dependence on fossil fuels can be "used as a weapon."

As of today (Tuesday), Russia has stopped supplying gas to the Netherlands' gas company GasTerra, following its refusal to pay in rubles. However, the Dutch gas trader already announced that it does not foresee any problems, as it had already bought gas elsewhere.

No early warning

Additionally, the Dutch government did not issue any "early warning" of a possible gas supply emergency to other Member States countries regarding supplies, meaning there is no need to prepare for the risk of disruption. Earlier, Russia also stopped deliveries to Bulgaria and Slovakia.

Van der Straeten's cabinet is in permanent contact with Belgian gas grid operator Fluxys and the Directorate-General for Energy of the Federal Public Economy Service (AD Energie), and is closely monitoring the situation.

Currently, there are no elements to declare the first 'Early Warning' phase of the national Natural Gas Emergency Plan in Belgium, Van der Straeten stressed.

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Belgium is a hub for gas supplies to the EU, but only has a very small share of Russian gas (6%) for its own consumption. Additionally, the port of Zeebrugge is an asset, with more than enough capacity to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from other countries.

The gas in Belgium is bought and traded by private companies, and the terms of payment are contractually and commercially sensitive information and therefore not publicly known.

However, the largest shippers confirmed to Van der Straeten's cabinet that there are currently no contractual problems for delivery to Belgium.

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