Germany has urged businesses and families to do their best to save energy as Russia tightens gas supplies across Europe.
“The time to do this has arrived. Every kilowatt-hour helps in this situation,” said Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, in a video posted on social media late Wednesday (15 June).
Germany would only be able to wean off Russian gas by mid-2024, according to the minister’s comments in April.
Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom has reduced gas delivery volumes via Nord Stream 1, a pipeline running from Russia to Germany, in recent days, citing technical problems as a result of EU sanctions.
The move comes as Gazprom also curbs supplies to Italy, Austria, and Slovakia.
Russia previously turned off supplies to several EU countries for refusing to pay for gas in roubles — including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, and the Netherlands.
The EU has agreed a coal and oil embargo in its previous packages of sanctions against Russia, without directly hitting gas imports.
Russia’s stockpiles account for about 40 percent of all EU gas imports, but countries such as Estonia, Finland, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Slovakia are heavily reliant on Russia.
Experts said the EU should be ready for a full cutoff of Russian gas supplies.
“This can happen at any time,” said Simone Tagliapietra, an energy expert at Brussels-based think tank Bruegel.
“Over the summer, it is key to sufficiently fill gas storages in a coordinated manner, and to organise sufficient import volumes to replace Russian gas in case of a full stop,” he added.
Tagliapietra said all EU countries should copy Germany’s plea and ask people to consume less energy — while turning the new EU energy purchase platform into an emergency tool that secures supplies for the next winter.
During the last summit in Brussels, EU leaders agreed to accelerate the refilling of European gas storage facilities.
Under the REPowerEU policy, the bloc committed to filling gas storage facilities up to at least 80 percent of their capacity before next winter.
Despite supply cuts, benchmark Dutch gas prices jumped around 30 percent on Thursday afternoon.