Dutch government activates 'early warning' over Russian gas cuts

The Dutch government said on Monday that tighter gas supplies from Russia to Europe prompted it to declare an “early warning” phase of a...

The Dutch government said on Monday that tighter gas supplies from Russia to Europe prompted it to declare an “early warning” phase of a natural gas crisis, a move that will see production more electricity by burning coal.

Russia’s actions in recent days – primarily the roughly 60% cut in flows through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany – have markedly darkened the mood in Europe on energy. Governments and industry in Europe are now convinced that Moscow plans to use gas as a political weapon against Europe’s biggest economies in the coming months. This means that major European countries, and not just a handful like Bulgaria and Poland, will likely see their gas supplies cut off or completely cut off and will need to take steps to reduce their vulnerability.

Gas flows have already been cut off not only to Germany but to other countries, including Italy and France, according to analysts and government officials. The Dutch government has said there is not yet an “acute gas shortage” in the Netherlands, but the drop in supply “could have consequences”.

“We now see that total gas supplies from Russia to Europe are rapidly declining,” Energy and Climate Minister Rob Jetten said in a statement. Mr Jetten said that without taking action, the Netherlands and Europe in general would not be assured of being able to fill gas storage facilities “enough in preparation for winter”.

Most European countries stockpile gas in the summer, when demand is low, in preparation for the winter, when gas consumption for heating soars. Insufficient reserves could lead to higher prices and increase Europe’s vulnerability to Russian energy blackmail.

The Dutch government said it was taking immediate action to reduce gas consumption. These include lifting limits on coal-fired power stations until 2024. The government has also said it will encourage residents and businesses to save gas, including by financially incentivizing large industrial users to reduce consumption .

During the weekend the german government has taken similar steps with regard to coal, and Austria has declared that it will allow the conversion of a gas-fired power plant to coal.

The Dutch government is resisting calls to increase production in Groningen gas field, a major supplier in the north of the country that authorities have planned to close due to earthquakes triggered by fuel extraction. The government appears to be trying to keep its options open on Groningen, which is operated by a joint venture owned by Shell and Exxon Mobil.

The government said in its statement that it had decided not to “permanently close any wells this year” due to what it called “uncertain geopolitical developments”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Dutch government activates 'early warning' over Russian gas cuts
Dutch government activates 'early warning' over Russian gas cuts
Newsrust - US Top News
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