February 25, 2009
After having been cut off twice in the last three years from Russian gas supplies, the EU is getting finally serious with improving its short-term gas supply security. Member states have started discussing to put in place a system of short-term storage, similar to the emergency oil storage installed after the first oil crisis in 1973.
The easiest solution is to legally oblige gas companies to maintain a permanent gas reserve, sufficient for 20 days of their normal sales. Member states would be responsible for monitoring the implementation.
Gas consumers would have to pay for the modest extra charges, a sort of insurance premium for safe supply. This point is controversial between member states, but there is no reason for the EU to get involved financially. Buying and selling gas is just an energy business like every other. So is the extension of the intra-European network of gas pipelines, which would further enhance the security of supply of those member states, which are particularly dependent on Russian gas.
It is urgent to get a “gas storage directive” adopted by the outgoing parliament so that European gas consumers can look forward to winter without supply cuts. The issue does not warrant lengthy debates on details. The EU is there to decide the essentials. That is what its citizens expect from it.Author : Eberhard Rhein