Germany, Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide support to one another amid the energy crisis. The deal will mean the member states will pre-coordinate a response to a worst-case scenario over serious fears that the lights might go out when demand soars and supplies dip further. Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said: “I have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with our European, Eastern European colleagues that we want to help each other with energy security.”
He later added: “We agreed on such preliminary agreements or key points in the area of electricity and then also gas with the Eastern European and now South-Eastern European neighbours.
According to Euractiv, the agreement reads that the countries “wish to confirm their intention to maintain and strengthen their cooperation on risk preparedness in the electricity sector”.
The deal is also intended to bring experts and ministers together to prepare for the event where energy supplies are so low that the issue “may not be solved with market-based measures”.
This comes after Russia cut pipeline gas travelling into Europe last month, sending panic soaring.
Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas giant, did warn ahead of time that it would slash deliveries travelling to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 67 million cubic meters (bcm) per day instead of the usual 167 bcm.
This forced Germany, which gets a third of its gas from Russia, to trigger the second phase of a three-stage gas alert system.
The placed the market on a war footing and has left the country just one step away from gas rationing.
The emergency system is designed for incidental disruptions, such as an accident or a broken pipeline and is not built to cope with a permanent countrywide gas shutdown that could spark industrial collapse.
Mr Habeck has also urged citizens to limit consumption and has warned that industrial output will take a hit.
The country has also been building up a reserve fleet of coal power plants to prepare for the worst as the winter approaches.
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Slovakia, France and Italy have also seen their imports of Russian gas plummet due to the cut which Gazprom blamed on a delay to the repairs of crucial infrastructure.
And on Monday, all EU countries agreed to top up natural gas storage to at least 80 percent capacity to prepare for the event that Russia slashes even more supplies.
The supply squeeze was not the first time lower volumes of Russian gas were getting sent to the bloc, and Moscow has warned that it may not be the last.
That’s because Putin set a March 31 deadline for countries to pay for gas in rubles or else face a supply cut.
The first to take a hit from this was Poland and Bulgaria, who temporarily had pipeline gas cut off as Putin showed he was willing to stick to his demand.
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And when the Netherlands refused to make the payment in the Russian currency, Dutch firm GasTerra said: “Gazprom has completely stopped gas supplies to GasTerra due to non-payment in rubles.”
GasTerra said “decided not to comply with Gazprom’s unilateral payment requirements” as it would breach EU sanctions.
As a result, it had expected its gas to get cut and will lose out on two billion cubic metres of Gazprom’s supplies between now and October.
Denmark also reported earlier this month that its gas supply had been cut off for refusing to comply with the Russian ruble demand. Danish energy company Ørsted said: “We stand firm in our refusal to pay in rubles, and we’ve been preparing for this scenario.
”The situation underpins the need of the EU becoming independent of Russian gas by accelerating the build-out of renewable energy.”