EU member states Greece and Spain raise red flags over winter gas rationing plans

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European Union (EU) proposals to ration gas this winter to stave off supply shortages have been met with opposition from member states concerned about storage issues and meeting consumption demand this winter.

The bloc disclosed plans yesterday to cut gas usage 15 per cent across the continent from August to March, as it desperately seeks to avoid supply shortages this winter if Russia turns off the taps.

However, Greece’s government has revealed it does not agree with the proposals.

Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said: “The Greek government does not agree in principle with the EU proposal for a 15 per cent reduction in gas usage.”

Rather, Greece has proposed an EU cap on wholesale electricity prices and joint gas purchases to help cut soaring energy costs.

Spain has also said that it could not support the EU proposal without consultations.

Greece relies on Russian pipeline gas for 40 per cent of its gas needs and has not seen any disruption of supplies so far.

It has replaced a big chunk of the Russian fuel with liquefied gas (LNG) imported from the United States and other countries.

The country would also need to store enough gas in other states to cover 15 per cent – 900m cubic metres – of its annual use, as it has no gas storage facilities.

It has been in talks with Italy on whether it can store gas there ahead of the winter, seeking approval for the move from European Commission, according to news agency Reuters.

Under a draft contingency plan revealed on Thursday, Greece plans to implement rotating power outages as a last resort if Russian gas supplies are disrupted.

These emergency regulations will be activated only if other actions, including ramping up coal-fired power capacity, asking consumers to reduce power consumption at peak hours and stopping power exports, prove insufficient, the country’s energy regulator said.