Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has announced plans to launch joint gas purchases before winter.
European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson pointed out that the move is aimed at lowering dependence on Russian natural gas imports and making the EU more resilient against supply shocks, Reuters reports Monday.
Last week, the EC proposed a plan for weaning the bloc off Russian energy imports by 2027 that focuses on stepping up investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and diversification of supply sources.
Russian natural gas imports cover roughly 40% of EU consumption, but the figure is declining as member states switch to different suppliers and Moscow cuts supplies to countries that refuse to pay in roubles, including Bulgaria, Finland and Poland.
Simson pointed out that the EU is preparing to start jointly buying natural gas before winter. She noted that the EU launched a platform earlier this year to coordinate use of pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.
The platform will help to estimate demand of member states, Simson added, which will help the bloc to plan joint purchases. She stressed that joint buying will not be mandatory for EU countries.
Analysts warn about obstacles
Analysts have warned that the EU could struggle to buy large volumes of natural gas as the global market is tightly supplied.
They added that planning joint purchases is complex as it requires coordination between the EC, national governments and companies, which makes it difficult to launch the platform quickly.
According to Simson, bloc members could benefit from joining together to buy gas as the move could provide them access to supply that would not be available to individual member states.
“There are limited gas volumes available in the global market for this year… and some of them are coming to the market only because of the political decisions,” Simson pointed out and reminded that the US agreed in March to supply the EU with additional 15 billion cubic meters of LNG this year.
In contrast, the EU’s annual consumption of natural gas from Russia stands at roughly 155 billion cubic meters. According to the EC, member states should focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy to replace Russian imports.