France Prepares For Total Cutoff of Russian Gas
The French Economy and Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Wednesday that France was preparing for a possible total cutoff of Russian gas on July 10 2022, and the government was identifying priority companies. According to Le Maire, France depends on Russian gas for around 17% of its electricity. Currently, it depends on other sources of energy to make up the difference.
A total cutoff of Russian gas on July 10 2022 will place Europe in an extremely vulnerable position. The European Commission is working on an emergency plan for the situation and is encouraging countries to save energy. Savings from public awareness campaigns have already reduced short-term energy demand by a few percent. Even simple actions such as turning down the heating can save equivalent amounts of natural gas. As a result, France is well prepared for an energy crisis.
The EU has long been dependent on Russian fossil fuels and has tried to reverse this dependence after Moscow invaded Ukraine. They have negotiated new gas deals with the US and Azerbaijan and are in talks with Israel and Qatar. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recently suggested that member states prepare for the worst case scenario. The European Commission is encouraging member states to implement measures to maximize their energy efficiency and reduce their gas demand immediately. In a recent meeting, the European Commission passed a plan that will reduce the demand for gas by 15 percent beginning August 1.
In a recent speech, the German government announced that the turbine on the Nord Stream is not critical and the flow of gas will return to normal levels after 21 July, but the EU will have to fill its gas storage facilities to at least 90 percent capacity to avoid a gas crisis. Even then, the supply could be interrupted, but the EU will be fully prepared for the possibility of a total cutoff of Russian gas on July 10 2022.
Germany and France have been trying to stock up gas in preparation for a possible total cutoff by Russia, and are working hard to cut their dependence on Russian energy. The Nord Stream pipeline, which supplies Germany with nearly half of its annual gas demand, was recently shut down by Gazprom for maintenance. Canada had waived sanctions against Russia to allow the turbine to be repaired and re-established, but the Ukrainian government called this a bluff, calling it a precedent that could lead to another total cutoff.
Despite the disruptions, the French government is determined to ensure that the EU’s energy needs are met. With less Russian gas flowing into the EU, it is squeezing its economies and producing export revenues for Russia. However, Russia has stayed away from a total cutoff, which would remove the strategic threat and give EU policymakers more time to prepare. With this threat, the glide path to energy security will be more difficult than ever before, and Russia is unlikely to give Europe much more time to respond.