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Security of supply of natural gas

Natural gas is an essential component of the energy mix of the European Union (EU), constituting one quarter of primary energy supply and contributing mainly to electricity generation, heating, feedstock for industry and fuel for transportation.

Gas consumption in Europe has rapidly increased during the last 10 years. With decreasing domestic production, gas imports have increased even more rapidly, thus creating higher import dependence and the need to address security of gas supply aspects.

ACT

Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supply and repealing Council Directive 2004/67/EC (Text with EEA relevance).

SUMMARY

The regulation aims to safeguard the security of gas supply by ensuring both prevention and a coordinated response in the event of a supply disruption and by securing the proper and continuous functioning of the internal gas market.

The regulation establishes a common framework where the security of supply is a shared responsibility of natural gas undertakings, European Union (EU) countries and the Commission. It also provides transparent mechanism, in a spirit of solidarity, for a coordinated response to an emergency at national, regional and EU levels.

Security of supply for protected customers

The regulation sets out a common concept of the customers whose gas supplies have to be protected. All households are protected customers. EU countries may also include as protected customers small and medium-sized enterprises and essential social services (provided that these additional customers do not represent more that 20% of the final use of gas) and/or district heating installations.

Common infrastructure and supply standards

The regulation provides common standards at EU level.

  • Infrastructure standard: EU countries must ensure that by 3 December 2014 at the latest, in the event of a disruption of the single largest infrastructure, they are able to satisfy total gas demand during a day of exceptional high gas demand. The regulation also requires reverse flows to be established in all cross border interconnections between EU countries by 3 December 2013.
  • Supply standard for protected customers: Natural gas undertakings must secure supplies to protected customers under severe conditions: in the event of a seven day temperature peak and for at least 30 days of high demand, as well as in the case of an infrastructure disruption under normal winter conditions.

Risk assessment, preventive action plan and emergency plan

By 3 December 2011, the competent authority shall make a full assessment of the risks affecting the security of gas supply. The risk assessment shall take into account the supply and infrastructure standards, all relevant national and regional circumstances, various scenarios of exceptionally high gas demand and supply disruption and the interaction and correlation of risks with other EU countries.

On the basis of the results of the risk assessment, no later than 3 December 2012, the competent authority shall adopt, make public and notify the Commission of a preventive action plan, containing the measures needed to remove or mitigate the risk identified, and an emergency plan containing the measures to be taken to remove or mitigate the impact of a gas supply disruption.

The risk assessment and the plans shall be updated every 2 years.

The Commission shall assess those plans in consultation with the Gas Coordination Group.

EU and regional emergency

The regulation defines three main crisis levels: early warning level, alert level, and emergency level.

The emergency plan shall build upon these crisis levels.

The Commission plays an important role with regard to the declaration of EU or regional emergency. The Commission may declare an EU or a regional emergency at the request of a competent authority that has declared an emergency. When the request comes from at least two competent authorities, the Commission shall declare an EU or regional emergency.

The Gas Coordination Group

The Gas Coordination Group is established to facilitate the coordination of measures concerning security of gas supply. The Group shall be consulted and shall assist the Commission on security of gas supply issues.

The Group shall be composed of representatives of the EU countries, in particular of their competent authorities, as well as the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO) for gas and representative bodies of the industry concerned and those of relevant customers. The Commission shall chair the Group.

Transparency and information exchange:

During an emergency, the natural gas undertakings concerned shall make available certain information to the competent authority on a daily basis.
In the event of an EU or regional emergency, the Commission is entitled to request that the competent authority provides at least information on the measures planned to be undertaken and already implemented to mitigate the emergency.

By 3 December 2011 at the latest EU countries shall inform the Commission of existing inter-governmental agreements concluded with non-EU countries. EU countries must also notify the Commission when any new such agreements are concluded.

Background

The Council Directive 2004/67/EC established for the first time a legal framework at EU level to safeguard security of gas supply. The Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis in January 2009 demonstrated that the provisions of the directive and their uneven implementation by the EU countries was not sufficient to prepare for, and to respond to a supply disruption, and there was a clear risk that measures developed unilaterally by the EU countries could jeopardise the functioning of the internal market.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EU) 994/2010

2.12.2010

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OJ L295 of 12.11.2010

Last updated: 19.01.2011
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