EU warned to get ready for complete Russian gas cutoff

Moscow's present supply cuts are "intended to prevent Europe from filling storage," according to the head of the IEA.

The head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, urged EU nations to broaden the scope of preparations for the potential of a complete shutdown of Russian gas shipments this winter, according to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

"If Russian gas is fully shut off, Europe (sic) should be prepared. We comprehend Russia's aims more as winter approaches, he remarked, according to the news source.

Birol commented on Gazprom's last week 60 percent reduction in gas supply via the Nord Stream pipeline, which the Russian business claims were strictly technical and was done to prevent Europe from filling up its storage and to give Russia more clout during the winter.

However, since last year, when gas prices in Europe soared to record highs, the IEA has been outright accusing Russia of manipulating gas prices.

He added that, in his opinion, the return to coal-fired energy generation will be "temporary" and help keep enough gas supplies for the upcoming heating season. "Emergency measures taken by European countries this week to reduce gas demand, such as firing up old coal-fired power stations, were justified by the scale of the crisis," he said.

While Sweden and Denmark stated they would also undertake emergency steps to reduce the use of natural gas, Germany, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands declared their plans to increase the use of coal for power generation.

However, Birol urged European countries to step up efforts to fill storage facilities, among other options and cautioned that present measures may not be sufficient if Russian gas exports fully cease.

As winter draws near, "I think there will be more and deeper demand measures [done by governments in Europe]," Birol added. He suggested the bloc "consider deferring closures [of nuclear power facilities] as long as the safety prerequisites are present," noting that gas rationing is a possibility and might help mitigate the effects of losing Russian gas.

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