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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: EU adopts 15% gas reduction target for member states by next spring




Brussels,Aug.5,2022(Lusa)–The Council of the European Union(EU) on Friday formally adopted the target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by spring, for fear of disruption in Russian supply, which provides for waivers and exemptions for countries such as Portugal.
Approved by a qualified majority, with 25 member states voting in favour and Poland and Hungary voting against, the regulation "will be published in the Official Journal at the beginning of next week and will enter into force the day after publication," the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU said today on its official Twitter social network account, with European sources specifying that publication should take place on Monday, thus entering into force on Tuesday, 9 August.
The approval this afternoon, for which a qualified majority was sufficient, comes after the political agreement reached at the Extraordinary Energy Council held at the end of July in Brussels, where the 27 reached a compromise on the proposal presented by the European Commission to voluntarily reduce gas consumption by 15% between August and the end of March 2023 but with new exceptions to cover the geographical or physical situation of the countries.
The regulation now adopted also provides for the possibility of triggering a 'Union alert' in the event of shortages, a scenario in which a reduction in demand for gas would become obligatory, although the situation in each member state would then be taken into account.
To increase the security of the EU's energy supply this winter, a voluntary reduction in natural gas consumption of around 15% is planned, through measures chosen by each country, between 1 August (last Monday) and 31 March 2023, a target that may still differ between countries, as exemptions and waivers were introduced to take into account the particular situations of member states.
Portugal, for example, "falls within the countries that could, due to having poor interconnections, see their target reduced by eight percentage points from the initially defined goal, if an obligation to reduce gas is created," environment minister Duarte Cordeiro said.
In addition, Portugal "can deduct a set of circumstances" in which it also finds itself, "such as the production of electricity in the system's security or the need to use gas as a raw material in indispensable industries or sectors," added the minister, in statements made after the political agreement in the EU, reached on July 26.
"The Council agreed that member states which are not interconnected with the gas networks of other member states are exempt from mandatory gas reductions, as they would not be able to release significant volumes of gas to the benefit of other member states," just as "member states may 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 domestic LNG infrastructure are used to redirect gas to other member states to the maximum extent possible," reads the statement released by the Council today.
In mid-July, the European Commission proposed a target for reducing EU gas consumption by 15 percent by spring, considering moving ahead with a compulsory reduction in demand in the face of an alert situation.
The Council specifies today that "the Community executive will make a proposal to trigger a 'Union alert' in the event of a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or exceptionally high gas demand, or if five or more member states that have declared an alert at national level request the Commission to do so".
The aim of the regulation is that, by 31 March 2023, member states will reduce their natural gas consumption by 15% (compared to the historical average of the last five years, taking into account the years 2017 to 2021), in order to increase the European storage level and create a safety 'cushion' for emergency situations.
The Council indicates today that "the regulation is an exceptional and extraordinary measure, foreseen for a limited period of time, will apply for one year and the Commission will carry out a review to consider its extension in the light of the overall EU gas supply situation, until May 2023".
The proposal was initially opposed by countries like Portugal and Spain, so exceptions were then introduced to the Brussels document to take into account specific features such as high dependence on electricity generation from gas, lack of synchronisation with the European electricity grid or even lack of direct interconnection of gas.
The idea is that in a normal winter there would be a reduction of 30 billion cubic metres in gas consumed in the EU, which would increase to 45 billion cubic metres in a long, cold winter.
Geopolitical tensions due to the war in Ukraine have affected the European energy market, as the EU imports 90% of the gas it consumes, with Russia accounting for about 45% of these imports, at varying levels between member states.
In Portugal, in 2021, Russian gas accounted for less than 10% of total imports.
The EU fears that Russia will interrupt gas supplies to Europe in the autumn and winter, following sharp reductions in supplies to several member states in recent months.
ANE/AYLS // AYLS
Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2022-08-06 10:11:00







 

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