Commission set to publish emergency gas use plan

15 July 2022

The European Commission next week will publish an EU-wide emergency plan to reduce gas use this winter. The initiative comes in light of the Russia’s significantly reduced gas deliveries, as well as the increasing likelihood that Gazprom will not restore deliveries after the planned maintenance period of the Nord-Stream 1 pipeline. 

Among others, the plan to reduce gas usage includes recommendations for limit heating in public buildings and offices to only 19°C and cooling to 25°C, as well as measures for industry to reduce demand, switching from gas to other fuels. 

In the plan, which the Commission is expected to adopt and publish on Wednesday, the Commission expects “a likely deterioration of the gas supply outlook” for the coming autumn and winter as a result of Russia’s “deliberate attempt to use energy as a political weapon.”

The plan comes as Russia’s Gazprom warned on Thursday that there is no certainty that it will be able to guarantee the full restoration of the Nord-Stream 1 pipeline. In a statement, the company said that it could not “ensure the safe operation” of the pipeline over doubts of the return of turbines currently being services in Canada. 

According to the draft document, the Commission will move the EU to the “Alert Stage” under the 2017 Gas Supply Regulation, triggering the need for the Commission to set out its emergency preparedness plans. It also follows a simulations by the European gas transmission system operators (ENTSOG), which has assessed that a full disruption of Russian gas supplies would “likely result” in the entire EU falling short of its 80% storage target, possibly “as low as 65% to 71%”, leading to a gap of 20 bcm during the winter.

As such, the Commission’s emergency plan calls on all participants to reduce their gas usage, including so-called vulnerable households such as private households, essential social services and small businesses. In this context, it calls on private households to turn down thermostats by as little as 1°C and heat office buildings to only 19°C, promising “large gas savings” as a result.