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New Law To Protect Winter Gas Flow

  • September 26th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

pipeline-russia.jpggas-switch-ep.jpgWith another Winter knocking on the door, the European Parliament has put through the final stage of a new law to ensure gas supplies in a crisis.

It is a drive to ensure that among other users, households might be guaranteed their Winter heating; a move fuelled by recent memories of energy supplies being interrupted  –  thanks especially to disputes between the supplier, Russia, and transit country, Ukraine.


europ-parliament-strasb.jpgThe European Union Regulation, passed  by 601 votes to 27 (with 23 abstentions) (21.9.10), will require EU member states to put in place necessary infrastructure and their own emergency measures, which must not involve denying supply to other EU countries.

The European Commission has already allocated €1.4-billion (A$1.97-billion;, 26.9.10) for contribution to infrastructure works; it will regulate the participation of national governments and organise a new coordination plan for the whole of the EU.


The following is from the European Parliament statement on the vote:

The new rules on the security of gas supply are intended to reduce vulnerability to future disruptions and boost infrastructure development at national and EU level. Market mechanisms remain the first course of action, but households will be protected first during a crisis.

Within two years Member States will have to design prevention plans and the Commission will have an increased role in coordinating emergency measures …

The Spanish MEP, Alejo Vidal Quadras (EPP), responsible for steering the draft legislation through the House, emphasised that the regulation was a “genuinely powerful instrument” to improve security of gas supplies …

Implementation of the rules will be reviewed in the next 2 to 3 years.

Household heating guaranteed

In the event of extremely low temperatures European gas companies would be required to ensure supplies to householders in the following cases:

– extreme temperatures during a seven-day peak period;

– any period of at least 30 days of exceptionally high demand;

– at least 30 days in the event of infrastructure disruption under average winter conditions.

Preventive measures

Member States will need to ensure that even if their biggest source of gas or a large part of the network fails, the remaining network is capable of meeting total daily gas demand on a day of “exceptionally high demand” (which, statistically, happens once every 20 years).

National authorities will have four years to comply with this supply standard but cross-border interconnections among EU countries will have to be in place within three years of the legislation’s entry into force.

Emergency response

If, despite these preventive measures, an emergency happens due to serious disruption or exceptionally high demand, the Member State concerned will activate a national emergency response plan.

The three main crisis levels are “early warning”, “alert” and “emergency”. In an emergency, the plans must ensure that cross-border access to storage facilities and the flow of gas across borders are maintained.

The European Commission would have to declare a “Union emergency” or a regional emergency at the request of at least two Member States who have declared national emergencies…


European Parliament, Strasbourg, “Security of gas supplies: joint EU response for future disruptions”, 21.9.10., (26.9.10).

cockatoo.jpgSee also EUAustralia Online: “EU sour about gas crisis”, 26.1.09; “Gas crisis resolved”, 21.1.09; “Update on Russia / Ukraine crisis”, 16.1.09, also 9.1.09, 4.1.09; “Outcry as oil from Russia stops again”, 21.1.07; “EU to tackle Putin over gas fears”, 13.10.06.

Picture EP