EU extends voluntary gas reduction plan

EU member nations agree to extend the bloc-wide plan to voluntarily reduce gas demand by 15% until March 2024.
Photo: Yves Herman
Photo: Yves Herman

Prices on gas have finally reached a reasonable level in spite of the war in Ukraine.

And yet EU energy spearheads have agreed to continue curbing gas consumption in the coming year, signing off on keeping the existing demand of reducing gas consumption by 15% running to March 2024, an EU diplomat informs.

Tuesday’s decision was made at an energy minister assembly in Brussels and is now set for formal confirmation in writing.

Going in to the minister meeting, Sweden’s energy minster Ebba Busch said:

”Even though the whole of Europe looks forward to spring, today the energy ministers will use all their powers to prepare for the coming winter.”

”One of the direct measures is extending the voluntary gas reduction,” stated Busch.

The demand to cut gas consumption was implemented last year when gas prices were on a seemingly unstoppable upward climb on Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s willful tampering of pipeline flows.

Since then, consumers, companies and authorities across the EU have sought to bring down consumption by turning the dial on radiators or through better insulation.

And Belgium is one of those countries where gas is used in many households for heating and cooking.

But the Belgians have fought hard to implement the gas reduction scheme, says the country’s energy minister Tinne van der Straeten.

”It is an important meeting today, because we are discussion extending the 15% gas reduction. In Belgium, many households and companies have taken strong action and slashed consumption substantially. So it is an important signal,” says van der Straeten.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously said that gas consumption across the EU has taken a 20% dip.

But not all countries adhere to the regulation. And that is why it makes sense to extend it to further bring down the combined EU consumption.

Tuesday’s decision does not entail additional demands on top of the 15% which EU member nations had to deliver on last year. But it underlines that the demand also counts in the coming months.

The EU member nations need to fill up their gas inventories before the winter.

Even though consumption reductions – and a mild winter – helped EU exit the season with inventories which markedly outperformed expectations, heavy gas flows are still needed to build up inventories.

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