Estonia requests emergency exception for EU gas reduction policy

Estonia is seeking an emergency exception within the EU's gas reduction solidarity measure if Russia disconnects the Baltics from the electricity grid, economic affairs and infrastructure minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) said on Monday.

The EU wants all Member States to lower their gas usage by 15 percent to reduce reliance on Russian gas.

Estonia's gas consumption has decreased by 16 percent this year compared to the five-year average and it is predicted it will fall further over the year.

However, the government is seeking an exception in case emergency stations need to be activated.

"If it were to happen that Russia disconnects us from its electricity grid, in order to keep the frequency here in the Baltic region, emergency stations that run on gas must be started up in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. And then, without a doubt, we would not be able to fulfill the 15 percent mandatory reduction criteria," Sikkut said.

All the signs suggest Estonia will be granted the exception, the minister told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Sikkut will attend the EU energy ministers meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter and give Estonia's approval.

"Estonia's position is that we support the setting of such a goal at the European Union level, but understandably exceptions are also needed and Estonia has also requested an exception," she said.

Last week, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said Estonia's gas consumption had dropped by 18 percent on year.

This winter, the government will allow shale oil to be used in place of gas by heating companies that have been unable to acquire gas reserves. Applications must be approved by the Environmental Board due to the fuel's increased environmental impact.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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