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BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) – The European Commission will next week propose plans to reduce Europe’s dependence on imported gas from Russia and make countries’ energy systems more resilient to supply shocks or to price spikes.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the European Union’s top gas supplier, has heightened concerns about supply disruptions and heightened scrutiny of countries’ dependence on imported fossil fuels.
The EU of 27 countries imports 90% of the gas it uses, of which around 40% comes from Russia. Russian deliveries have remained stable since the invasion, but prices have risen due to fears that EU sanctions could target Russian gas or that Moscow could limit supplies.
Here is the content of a draft proposal from the European Commission, which could change before its publication next week.
EU gas storage should be at least 80% full by September 30 this year to protect against supply shocks next winter, according to the plan.
The Commission will coordinate measures to ensure this happens. He said countries can require storage users to fill a minimum volume or instruct transmission network operators to purchase strategic gas stocks.
It also plans to propose a legal obligation for EU countries to fill gas storage to a minimum level by September 30 each year, according to the draft.
EU gas storage is currently 29% full, around 8 percentage points less than at the same time last year, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe.
The Commission said the EU could face a partial disruption of Russian gas supplies this winter, pointing to countries’ storage and contingency plans in the event of a supply shock.
The EU is currently negotiating a series of new policies on climate change, including targets to develop renewable energy and reduce energy consumption more rapidly over the next decade.
The proposals would reduce the EU’s dependence on gas by 23% by 2030, according to the draft, and the Commission has urged EU countries and the European Parliament to approve them quickly.
In the short term, Brussels wants to diversify its gas supply. Concerns about disruptions to Russian flows have led the EU to seek alternative supplies from countries such as the United States, Qatar and Japan.
European imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) hit a record high of around 11 billion cubic meters in January.
The draft says the EU will discuss medium-term market developments with major gas buyers to try to avoid “conflicting market practices” that could drive up prices.
He also pledged more support for green hydrogen projects and said countries should use the EU’s huge agricultural subsidy budget to fund biogas production from waste.
As the EU seeks to switch from fossil fuels to green energy, the Commission will make recommendations in June to speed up the approval of new wind and solar energy projects.
Another proposal will include measures to accelerate solar projects, including roof panels for homes, according to the project.
The Commission will also tell EU countries that they can tax the profits that energy companies have made from recent gas price spikes and invest the revenues in renewable energy or in supporting consumers and industries affected by the high electricity prices.
Governments in most of the 27 EU member countries are already using emergency measures such as tax breaks and subsidies to protect households against rising energy bills, which have jumped in recent months against a backdrop of skyrocketing gas prices.
Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Jan Harvey
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