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Safeguarding security of natural gas supply
Commission Européenne - MEMO/08/701 13/11/2008
Brussels, 13 November 2008
Natural gas is currently the second most important fuel in the EU's energy mix, representing roughly a quarter of EU gross inland consumption. Possible gas supply crises could have very high economic and social impacts. Therefore the EU needs to be prepared to tackle security of supply in an effective way. Today's Community mechanism is not sufficient to provide a timely response to a crisis which goes beyond the level that industry and national measures can mitigate. Further, today's lack of transparency on security of gas supply data and measures prevents the assessment of the real-time gas supply situation and potential responses within the EU. The EU needs to take a step forward on security of gas supply and solidarity. The Commission Communication aims at opening a debate with the Member States and the European institutions as well as with the stakeholders in order to prepare a revision of the Directive on security of natural gas supplies (EC 2004/67).
Due to several factors which include a country's geographic position, historical development of individual gas markets, existing interconnections, etc, Member States are in very different situation with regards to the security of their gas supplies.
At present there are significant inconsistencies in how Member States define the roles and responsibilities of various market players and the range of the protected customers. Also, the security of supply standards vary among Member States. That means that there is a different level to which each Member State is to be able to maintain adequate gas supplies to the defined customers by its own means under extreme circumstances such as supply disruptions or extreme climate conditions. These inconsistencies might constitute a hindrance to cross-border co-operation during crises and to the development of effective solidarity arrangements.
The internal gas market is under development. The gas markets mainly have a regional character. Several countries are linked along the same major pipeline infrastructure and Member States depend on each other's actions and consumption. Regional cooperation is therefore crucial and may be able to offer a timely response in case of a crisis. However, at the same time a supply shortage is most likely to affect a whole region, which might not be able to cope with it alone. At this stage an EU-level response would be needed.
The Commission puts forward a number of options for each element of the Directive and its implementation which needs improvement, with particular attention to a more suitable definition of security of supply standards, greater transparency concerning security of gas supply data and the establishment of an EU gas emergency plan.
More information here.