(Bloomberg) -- European Union nations will discuss improving their winter contingency plans at an emergency meeting on July 26 as fears grow that Russia will cut off gas supplies to the bloc.
The talks will most likely center on the European Commission’s proposal to coordinate efforts to reduce gas demand, boost energy savings and better prepare for a complete halt in shipments from Russia, the region’s biggest supplier, according to two EU diplomats, who asked not to be identified citing policy. The EU’s executive arm is due to unveil its plan on July 20.
The EU’s biggest challenge this winter is to ensure there are sufficient gas reserves to get through peak demand for heating and power. Those stocks also serve as a buffer that allows gas to move across borders within the EU to ensure all member nations have enough supply. The industry has been warning that next winter may be even tougher if Moscow halts flows, with the bloc having limited options to import gas from elsewhere.
Curtailments in Russian shipments have affected 12 member states and prompted Germany to raise its gas-risk alert to the second-highest “alarm” level. EU projections this month showed that while filling rates of gas storage are on track to reach 90% by Nov. 1, that level would fall below 75% if Russian flows are cut off.
The bloc’s EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson last month urged member states to step up energy savings and efficiency to minimize the threat of gas rationing. The planned preparedness package will propose measures to preventively reduce demand, she said. It will also offer guidance to governments to identify critical sectors where curtailment would have cross-border impact on European or even global supply chains.
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