In advance of more Russian gas cuts in Europe, the ministers of the 27 EU member countries agreed on Tuesday to cut their consumption of gas by 15% and reduce their dependence on Russian supplies.
The council of ministers of EU countries, which met to discuss gas rationing and to agree on a way to share the burden of shortages, reached a political agreement on the voluntary reduction of natural gas in an effort to increase EU security of energy supply.
The statement stemming from the meeting added that, in line with the Council regulation, the EU envisages the possibility to trigger a ‘Union alert’ on the security of supply. In such a case, the gas demand reduction would become mandatory.
All 27 EU members have imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, accusing Moscow of continuously using energy supplies as a weapon, so the gas demand reduction they agreed upon aims to make savings ahead of winter in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia.
Their decision was pushed in a way by the announcement of the Russian energy giant Gazprom on Monday, warning it’ll significantly decrease the gas flows to Europe – from Wednesday (July 27).
Gazprom said it is cutting daily gas deliveries from the Portovaya compressor station to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 33 million cubic meters a day, which is about 20% of the pipeline’s capacity
The company said in the statement that due to the technical condition of the engine, it was halting the operation of one of the last two operating turbines from 7:00 am Moscow time Wednesday.
This comes less than a week after Gazprom restored the critical gas supplies to the EU via Nord Stream after 10 days of maintenance, but only at 40% of the pipeline’s capacity.
A spokeswoman for the German economy ministry emphasized that there was no technical justification for Gazprom’s decision to reduce the deliveries while Siemens Energy, the German group in charge of the maintenance of the turbine, also saw no link between the announced gas cuts and the turbine.
Heavily dependent on Russian gas, the German government has accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the cuts as energy terrorism, using it to call for stricter sanctions against Russia.