Estonia's gas consumption has fallen by 18 percent this year and is estimated to drop further by winter, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Thursday.
"Gas consumption in Estonia has actually already decreased. In the first half of 2022, we consumed 18 percent less than at the same time in 2021. Although historically our gas consumption has been somewhere around five terawatt-hours per year, we are now forecasting four terawatt-hours for the winter," she said at the new coalition's first press conference.
The cabinet approved Estonia's position on gas consumption reduction on Thursday, which is required for the EU's Council of Energy Ministers, as the EU wants its 27 Member States to reduce their reliance on Russian gas.
Kallas said, at first, the EU plans to do this on a voluntary basis and hopes to cut consumption by 15 percent between August 1 and March 2023. If this goal is not reached, mandatory targets will be introduced.
It will also be possible for the EU to declare a state of emergency if three or more states request it or declare their own emergencies, the prime minister said.
She said the 15 percent target presents no problem for Estonia and the government supports the targets. However, if other Member States struggle previous efforts to reduce their gas consumption should be taken into account, Kallas said.
"It is important to stop using Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible and also stop funding Putin's war machine, and then member states can choose for themselves exactly how do that," said Kallas.
Estonia is planning to use shale oil in place of gas this year, which is can produce domestically.
Editor: Helen Wright