Brussels, 18 November 2009
Gas Coordination Group sees overall good level of preparedness of EU Member States and Energy Community countries in case of gas crisis
The Gas Coordination Group, chaired by the Commission, met this afternoon to analyze in detail all elements of the preparedness of the EU and the Energy Community for a potential supply disruption in the Winter 2009/2010. The Gas Coordination Group examined the gas consumption and storage levels in the EU and assessed emergency responses that have been put in place by the Members since January 2009. Special focus was given to the countries mostly affected by the January 2009 crisis in South-East Europe and the Energy Community parties.
In particular, the Group noted the full levels of storages in almost all Member States and that a number of short-term commercial agreements have been put in place to cover for the emergency case in those countries most hit by the January crisis. New reverse flow projects have been identified and are being implemented. The European Recovery Plan provides a stimulus of 1.44bn Euros for new gas interconnectors and reverse flow projects. In addition, industrial gas demand has dropped in 2008/09 due to the economic crisis. Gas and LNG prices have come down at European hubs.
The Group noted the need to coordinate emergency planning and implement the necessary infrastructure projects for the security of supply together with regional partners. Previously, in its October meeting the Group assessed the progress of various regional gas initiatives, including joint emergency planning.
The Commission also invited the Members of the Gas Coordination Group to run supply disruption scenarios at EU and regional levels to identify the best possible responses to a disruption of gas supplies.
In order to improve the level of preparedness of the Member States, the industry and the European Union in case of a supply disruption, the Commission proposed a new Regulation on security of gas supplies in July 2009. The January 2009 gas crisis showed that a more coordinated approach is needed on a European level to provide stable and secure energy supply to European citizens. The draft Regulation suggests common infrastructure and supply standards to protect customers, as well as the elaboration of preventive action plans and emergency plans at national, regional and EU levels. The European Council of October 2009 urged Member States and the Parliament to make fast progress on the Commission proposal for the security of gas supply.
The Gas Coordination Group will meet again on 14 December 2009 to ensure the continuous assessment of the security of supply situation in the EU during winter 2009/10.
The Gas Coordination Group was created in 2006 according to Directive 2004/67 relating to measures that guarantee security of natural gas supply. Chaired by the European Commission, it is composed of gas competent representatives of Member States, the European organizations of the gas sector and consumers. The Group meets regularly (at least 4 times per year) to exchange information and to develop both short and long term concrete measures which reinforce the security of gas supply to the EU.
Directive 2004/67 sets out a three step approach in case of supply crisis: the industry takes the necessary measures; if these are not adequate to mitigate the crisis, national measures are activated; if still not adequate and if the crisis reaches the major supply disruption indicator (20% of all imports are missing) the Community mechanism is activated: the Gas Coordination Group is convened to discuss what further steps can be taken and to assist the Member States in difficulty. The Group can then propose further measures to the Council.