5 Aug 2022 18:20

Council of EU adopts regulation cutting gas use by 15%

BRUSSELS. Aug 5 (Interfax) - The Council of the European Union announced on Friday that the EU member states adopted a regulation on a voluntary reduction of natural gas demand by 15% in winter.

"Member states agreed to reduce their gas demand by 15% compared to their average consumption in the past five years, between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023, with measures of their own choice," the Council of the EU said in a communique published in Brussels.

The decision is aimed at saving gas for this winter, "in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia, which is continuously using energy supplies as a weapon," it said.

The regulation authorizes the Council to trigger a 'Union alert' on security of supply, in which case the gas demand reduction would become mandatory.

At the same time, as long as "all member states will deploy their best efforts to meet the reductions, the Council specified some exemptions and possibilities to apply a partial or in some cases a full derogation from the mandatory reduction target, in order to reflect the particular situations of member states."

The Council agreed that member states that are not interconnected to other member states' gas networks shall be exempted of mandatory gas reductions as they would be unable to free up significant volumes of gas to the benefit of other member states, it said.

In addition, member states whose electricity grids are not synchronized with the European electricity system and who therefore rely more on gas for electricity production will also be exempted in case they are desynchronized from a third country's grid, in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis, it said.

Member states can limit their reduction target to adapt their demand reduction obligations if they have limited interconnections to other member states and can show that their export capacities and their domestic LNG infrastructure are fully employed to re-direct gas to other member states, it said.

"Member states can also limit their reduction target if they have overshot their gas storage filling targets, if they are heavily dependent on gas as a feedstock for critical industries or they can use different calculation method if their gas consumption has increased by at least 8% in the past year compared to the average of the past five years," the statement says.

The EU members also agreed that, in choosing demand reduction measures, they shall consider prioritizing measures that do not affect protected customers such as households and essential services for the functioning of society like critical entities, healthcare and defense.

The Council of the EU emphasized that "the regulation is an exceptional and extraordinary measure, foreseen for a limited time." It will be applied for one year and "the Commission will carry out a review to consider its extension in light of the general EU gas supply situation, by May 2023."

The regulation will enter into effect after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.