Moscow’s current supply cuts are? Focused on avoiding Europe filling up stocks? says the IEA chief
The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, has warned the EU of being prepared for the possibility of a complete shutdown of Russian gas exports this winter, and urges bloc members to broaden the range of measures aimed at preparing for this scenario. Times reported on Wednesday.
“Europe (sic) should be ready if Russian gas is completely shut off. The closer we get to winter, the more we understand Russia’s intentions,” he said, according to the news agency.
Commenting on Gazprom’s 60% reduction in gas supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline last week, which the Russian company stresses is purely technical, Birol said that “the cuts are aimed at avoiding Europe filling up stocks and increasing Russia’s leverage during the winter months.”
However, the IEA has openly accused Russia of manipulating gas prices since last year, when gas costs in Europe peaked at record levels.
“Emergency measures taken by European countries this week to reduce gas demand, such as burning old coal-fired power plants, were motivated by the scale of the crisis despite concerns about rising CO2 emissions,” he said, adding that in his view, the return to coal-fired energy production to be “temporary” and help maintain a sufficient supply of gas for the coming heating season.
Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands announced their plans to increase the use of coal for electricity production, while Sweden and Denmark said they would also launch emergency measures to limit the use of natural gas.
However, Birol warned that current measures would not go far enough if Russian gas exports ceased altogether and suggested that European governments increase efforts to fill storage facilities, among other options.
“I think there will be more and deeper demand measures [taken by governments in Europe] as winter approaches, “said Birol. He noted that gas rationing is a possibility, which could help compensate for the consequences of losing Russian gas and offered the bloc to” consider postponing closures [of nuclear power plants] as long as the security conditions exist. “
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