Russia may cut-off gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for sanctions and the region’s support of Ukraine, warned France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says Europe must
prepare for a total cut-off of Russian gas.
- France’s government, is working to avoid energy shortages,
says the minister.
- European Union nations will be discussing winter contingency
plans later this month, to ensure there is sufficient gas to meet heat and
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Europe must
prepare for Russian gas deliveries to be shut off entirely in retaliation for
the region’s sanctions on the Kremlin and support for Ukraine.
“Let’s prepare ourselves for a total cut-off of Russian
gas,” Le Maire said at an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence, southern
France, on Sunday. “That’s the most likely scenario today.”
France must be “very careful” in its energy
consumption, build up gas stockpiles, reduce red tape slowing the development
of renewable energies, and accelerate its program to build new nuclear
reactors, the finance minister said. The country must also make plans to
curtail energy usage company by company, and by region, to ensure that
businesses such as glass makers are spared from irreversible damage, he added.
The government is “trying to do everything that is
required to avoid” energy shortages, Le Maire said. “Due to the
energy crisis, due to the war in Ukraine, we could have to face a difficult
time, which means that we need to be prepared.”
European Union nations will discuss winter contingency plans
at an emergency meeting on July 26 in a bid to ensure there are sufficient gas
reserves to get through peak demand for heating and power. The industry has
warned that winter may be even tougher if Moscow halts flows, given limited
options to import gas from elsewhere.
France’s energy challenge is exacerbated by repairs to some
of Electricite de France SA’s nuclear reactors, which is set to plunge output
to the lowest level in more than three decades. On Saturday, EDF’s outgoing
boss Jean-Bernard Levy warned this winter could bring energy rationing to
The country is looking to extend an energy tariff shield
beyond the end of 2022 to cushion its poorest households from surging wholesale
prices, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Saturday.
Le Maire said the government’s planned nationalisation of
EDF – which is already 84%-state-owned – will streamline decision-making and
reinforce France’s energy independence. The minister said he will provide
details on the nationalisation in the coming weeks, while the process itself
“will take months.”
The minister said he’s already had long discussions with
European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager on the matter, and said
he’ll resume these talks.
-With assistance from Caroline Connan.
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