Energy ministers from European Union countries agreed on Monday to urgently connect a European electricity system to Ukraine’s grid, a move that would strengthen its independence from Russia after the country was invaded by Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Europe’s largest gas supplier, has heightened fears of energy supply disruption and heightened scrutiny of European Union countries’ dependence on imported fossil fuels.
He also raised concerns about Ukraine’s own energy system, and EU ministers on Monday backed a long-planned link of Ukraine’s electricity grid with that of Europe. “There was a broad agreement around the table. On this basis, we will move forward (…) to connect the Ukrainian electricity system as soon as possible,” EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said after the meeting.
Ukraine disconnected its network from a Russian system last week and requested an emergency synchronization with a European system. This would mean that Russia would no longer control technical aspects of the Ukrainian network such as network frequency. EU officials said the link could be completed within weeks. Simson said it was possible that Russia could take “retaliatory measures” affecting Europe’s energy supply in response to Western sanctions, but that current levels of gas storage and the increase deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could allow Europe to get through this winter.
The Commission will next week propose an obligation for countries to fill gas storage to minimum levels before winter, to support countries against supply and price shocks, according to a draft plan seen by Reuters. The proposals will also include measures to develop renewable energy more rapidly, as Brussels insists again on the need to no longer depend on imported fossil fuels, not only to combat climate change, but also for security reasons.
To meet its 2030 climate target, the EU plans to reduce its gas consumption by more than 25% compared to 2015 levels, although gas is expected to retain a significant share of the European energy mix for at least the next decade. “We must work on the development of low-carbon energies, renewable energies so that we are no longer so dependent on gas”, declared the French Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, who chaired the meeting of ministers.
Russia supplies about 40% of European gas. EU rules require all member countries to have a plan for responding to gas supply shocks, which they have updated in recent weeks. Analysts have said a complete or prolonged halt to Russian gas supplies to Europe would have serious economic repercussions, requiring emergency measures such as plant closures.
First-month Dutch gas prices climbed around 11% on Monday amid concerns about a possible disruption in Russian flows. Gazprom said it was supplying gas through Ukraine in line with demand from European consumers. EU ministers also discussed a proposal from Greece for a new EU fund to provide low-interest loans to help governments finance measures to tackle high oil prices. energy.
Soaring gas prices in recent months have pushed up bills for households and industries, prompting governments in most of the 27 EU countries to offer subsidies and tax breaks. “We should not underestimate the consequences of the Russian invasion on energy prices and energy security,” Greek Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said.
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