Natural gas storage capacity in Europe is around 95 percent full at present, Estonia's European Commissioner Kadri Simson (Center) says, while substitutes for Russian gas have been found.
Appearing on ETV politics discussion show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday night, Simson said: "First off, we have agreed that underground gas storage facilities must reach full capacity before the start of winter."
"As of today, they are 95 percent full. This is significantly more than a year ago. In addition, we have agreed that all lost Russian gas volumes must be replaced by reliable producers."
Of these, Simson said: "We have been able to negotiate with Norway, Azerbaijan, and Algeria. They have increased their volumes by 24 billion cubic meters. What was missing from [Russian] pipeline gas has been replaced with LNG. /.../ We have replaced every last molecule with an alternative, thus far."
This source will not be taken away, she added, and will not be allowed to impact on other energy areas.
"We do not want the gas crisis to expand into an electricity crisis. If everything works as it should, we will get through this winter without any interruptions. It is true that the price levels are higher, and there are risks, for example, with the unexpected maintenance of nuclear power plants. This will hit the whole market area, because the volumes of nuclear plants are so large," Simson said.
Since EU nations have not been able to agree on a common package of gas supply sanctions, Russian gas still arrives in Europe, for example, via the pipelines through Ukraine and Turkey, but, Simson said, one must be prepared for the eventuality of Russian gas supplies such as they still are, being cut off in the middle of winter.
"It is true that it is not possible to buy this 55 billion cubic meters [of Russian gas] on world markets, it simply does not exist. Then our answer would be this - consume less, save fuel where you can," she said.
The likely complete, eventual cessation of Russian gas supplies means that by winter 2023/2024, Europe, including our region, must have the capacity to receive even more LNG, while all supply booked at LNG terminals in the region should also be reviewed to ensure that these are bona fide reservation bookings of LNG.
Europe has been preparing for the whole year so that the upcoming winter will pass without electricity and gas interruptions, and so far the plan has worked, Simson told "Esimene stuudio", while the principle of solidarity, whereby member states with no natural gas shortages or issues of supply, or with milder climates, are on hand to pitch in in respect of those member states or neighboring states who do have problems, is important, the commissioner added.
Estonia itself has has concluded such an agreement with Finland and Latvia, though there are at present only a total of six such solidarity agreements between EU states as a whole.
Simson expressed hope that EU energy ministers will be able to agree on a pan-European solidarity agreement, which means that no member state should be left in trouble.
Electricity power stations which run on natural gas are essential in peak consumption periods in the winter, Simson added; a time when consumption outstrips supply, making reduced consumption the main solution.
The European Commission has also proposed designating natural gas-fired power stations preferential status as customers of natural gas, on a par with the domestic consumer.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: 'Esimene stuudio'