The European Union on Wednesday urged member states to ration natural gas as Russia threatens to restrict the flow of gas to Europe, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The European Commission on Wednesday urged governments to prepare for a winter with reduced supplies of Russian gas. Russia has already reduced the flow of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline to just 40% of its previous capacity.
“We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas,” European Commission President Ursula von der told reporters. “This is a likely scenario.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the country would fulfill its commitments but warned of capacity shortfalls due to Western sanctions.
The EU plan urged countries to voluntarily reduce natural gas use by 15% over the next eight months.
Under a proposal introduced on Wednesday, the guidelines could become mandatory if voluntary action alone is not enough to avert a shortfall.
The plan urges countries to switch to alternative energy sources, including nuclear and coal. It urged governments to compensate companies for using less gas and potentially imposing limits on heating and air conditioning in public buildings.
About 40% of Europe’s natural gas supply came from Russia last year and officials are struggling to figure out how to replace the flow.
The EU said Wednesday that Russian gas supplies in June were less than 30% of the average amount the bloc saw in previous years.
The International Energy Agency said that Europe is now operating in a “constant state of uncertainty over Russian gas supplies.”
It’s unclear whether every country will go along with the new plan.
“We see the potential for several countries to opt not to curtail demand in the hope that the demand destruction in neighboring states will be sufficient to lower prices,” Giacomo Romeo, an equity analyst with Jefferies, told the Journal.