EU Proposes to Extend Measures to Curb Gas Demand for Another Year

The European Commission proposed on Monday to extend measures to curb the bloc’s gas demand, which is set to expire at the end of March, for another year. The Commission wants to re-implement the measures for the next 12 months to help Europe get through next winter with scarce Russian gas. The EU is coming out of the winter with better than feared energy supplies, after Russia cut off most gas supplies last year following its invasion of Ukraine, which had tightened supplies and pushed prices soaring.

The Commission said countries should extend, from April until March 2024, a voluntary target to curb their gas demand by 15% vs. their 2017-2022 average consumption. The target was due to expire at the end of March.

EU countries have managed to slash their combined gas consumption by 19% from August 2022 to January 2023, which was possible in part thanks to an unusually warm winter.

Soaring energy prices caused industrial output to shrink, and the EU and national governments encouraged consumers to reduce their energy consumption.

As a result, Europe is approaching the end of winter with unusually high levels of gas in storage.

The bloc has also achieved to secure a more stable supply outlook after rapid expansion of renewable energy to help replace Russian gas and building infrastructure to take in imports of fuel from alternative suppliers.

Risks remain, including cold weather or increased Chinese gas demand which could reduce supply available for European buyers.

The Commission said continued gas demand curbs are needed if countries are to fill their gas storage to 90% of capacity by November – a binding target EU countries agreed last year to help avert winter shortages.

EU energy ministers will discuss the target at a meeting in Brussels on Mar. 28.

Although the proposal is not expected to win support from all member states, it requires support from EU nations representing at least 65% of the bloc’s total population. some said it appeared likely to win approval.

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