EU wants member states to extend reduced gas consumption target

EU wants member states to extend reduced gas consumption target

The European Commission intends to propose to EU Member States to renew their successful gas reduction target, adopted last year in the face of the shock of the war in Ukraine, for the coming winter.

In an effort to cushion the fall in Russian supplies and reduce their dependence on imported hydrocarbons, the EU-27 agreed last July to reduce their gas demand over the period August 2022-March 2023 by 15% compared to the average over the past five years.

This “voluntary” target has been largely surpassed, thanks to mild weather and high tariffs that have prompted households and businesses to make savings.

Gas consumption fell by 19.3%

According to Eurostat, gas consumption in the EU fell by 19.3% between August 2022 and January 2023, compared with average consumption over the same period between 2017 and 2022.

“But we cannot be under the illusion that it will continue to go well: this year will be difficult and next year too, there are still many uncertainties,” Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told a hearing in the European Parliament on Thursday.

In their bid to stop importing Russian gas, the Europeans could face tighter supplies on the world market, with a strong rebound expected from Chinese purchases.

“I am going to propose to Member States to prolong the voluntary demand reduction by 15% until next year,” Simson said.

Brussels wants members to stop buying Russian LNG

"This has worked well and it's the best guarantee to achieve an adequate level of storage by November,” at 90% of EU reserves, as now required by EU law, the commissioner insisted.

The renewed target will have to be agreed again by the EU27.

Brussels is also calling on Europeans to stop buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia, even if it is not subject to sanctions.

“We received last year around 20 billion m3 of Russian LNG. I think that we can and should get rid of Russian gas completely as soon as possible,” Simson stressed, calling on states and companies not to renew existing contracts with Russia or sign new ones.

In five member states, the share of Russian LNG has increased, while some landlocked countries such as Hungary are struggling to find alternatives to Russian pipeline gas, but this is not the case for LNG, a globalised market where shipments are provided, she later told the press.

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