The head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Thursday that Europe must reduce its natural gas consumption by 20% to make it through the winter as the EU is preparing for Russia to cut off its gas supply, a consequence of the Western sanctions campaign.
“Even if there is no single accident … Europe still needs to reduce its gas consumption about 20% compared to today in order to have safe and normal winter months,” IEA chief Fatih Birol said, according to Oilprice.com.
Russia resumed gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Thursday after it was shut down for routine maintenance, but the pipeline is still running at 60% less capacity than normal. Russia reduced the capacity in June due to Western sanctions slowing the return of a repaired turbine for the pipeline that was stuck in Canada.
Birol said that it’s “too early” to be happy about Nord Stream 1 operating again and warned that the Russian supply can be “cut anytime.”
Birol’s warning came a day after the EU’s European Commission proposed a plan to reduce its gas consumption by 15% to prepare for the coming winter and the likely prospect of losing access to Russian gas. But some of the bloc’s members have already rejected the plan.
Spain and Portugal said they don’t agree to the 15% cut because their energy infrastructure is barely linked to the rest of Europe, and they use much less Russian gas than other EU members.
“We will defend European values, but we won’t accept a sacrifice regarding an issue that we have not even been allowed to give our opinion on,” Spanish Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera said. “No matter what happens, Spanish families won’t suffer cuts to gas or to the electricity to their homes.”
On Tuesday, the IMF warned that if the EU loses its Russian gas supply, it would cause deep recessions in Europe. In order to minimize the impact, IMF researchers said EU countries would have to cooperate to share alternative supplies.