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Sweden is afraid of running out of gas, it sounds the alert to the European Union

The Swedish Energy Agency has decided “to follow Denmark’s example”. Just like her neighbor yesterday, with whom she has a “common gas market”, Sweden therefore announced on Tuesday, June 21, activating the first level of the alert system set up a few years ago by the European Union, due to the uncertainty over its Russian gas supplies.

As a reminder, this system allows States in difficulty, in terms of gas supply, to benefit from the assistance of another EU Member State. It is divided into three levels: “pre-alert” (“early warning”), “alert”, and “emergency”. By triggering the pre-alert level, Sweden can also begin to ration supplies.

“The state of Sweden’s gas supply is still solid”, and reservations in Sweden “are well provided for before the fall”, however assured the Swedish agency.

On Monday, the Danish Energy Agency also activated the transition to the first level of alert, citing “a serious situation” and “exacerbated by reduced supplies” while specifying that the gas stocks of Denmark were full “about 75%”. Denmark has been deprived of Russian gas since June 1, the Danish energy company Ørsted having refused to pay for its deliveries in roubles.

Russia steps up gas cuts to Europe as US LNG struggles to arrive

No difficulties in France

While Europe is facing a gas crisis, Engie (ex-GDF) said this Thursday, June 21 not to encounter any difficulties. And this while no more cubic meter of Russian gas arrives in France by gas pipeline (imports of liquefied Russian gas by LNG tankers continue nevertheless). “Today, we have no difficulty supplying our customers,” assured Cécile Prévieu, deputy general manager of Engie, in charge of customer solutions activities.

“The Engie group has a diversification policy for its gas supplies. We have other suppliers and we are accelerating on this diversification, in particular with Algeria or Norway”, she added, noting that the storages were filling up well. “In France, we are almost at 60% today”.

Gas crisis: Engie claims to have no difficulty supplying its customers

The comeback of coal

Gas storage has become a priority in Europe, as the Russian giant Gazprom gradually closes its taps to member states. The speed is greatly reduced to Germany, Austria and Italy. The countries affected are seeking to reduce their gas consumption as much as possible during this summer period in order to build up reserves for next winter, a period during which the absence of Russian gas will have the most damaging effects, given heating needs.

Many are turning to coal. This is the case of Germany, as announced this Sunday, June 19. “To reduce gas consumption, you need to use less gas to generate electricity. Instead, coal-fired power plants will have to be used more,” the economy ministry said in a statement. “It’s bitter, but it’s essential to reduce gas consumption”, reacted the Ecologist Minister of the Economy Robert Habeck.

The revival of coal-fired power stations will be “a short-term measure”, over a period “limited”, until 2024, insisted the next day the spokesperson for the Ministry of Economy and Climate, Stephan Gabriel Haufe, maintaining Berlin’s objective of abandoning this polluting energy in 2030.

Anxious over Russian gas cuts, Germany to rely more on coal-fired power plants

A decision also taken in Austria, which announced the same day the next restart of a disused coal-fired power station, in order to be able to compensate for a possible shortage. As for the Netherlands, deprived of Russian gas since June 1, coal-fired power plants can now “operate at full capacity instead of the maximum of 35%”, in force since January 2022 in the country in order to reduce CO2 emissions, announced the Dutch Minister of Environment and Energy Rob Jetten.

Russian gas cut: like Germany and Austria, the Netherlands returns to coal

(With AFP)