Russia’s gas cut is a weapon of war, Paris says

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Russia’s gas cut is a weapon of war, Paris says

“As we expected, Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and is using the way Engie’s contracts are implemented as a pretext to further reduce supplies to France,” the French energy minister said in a statement.

Gazprom is just using an excuse to stop supplying natural gas to French energy company Engie, France’s energy minister said today, adding that her country had foreseen the loss of supply.

“As we expected, Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and is using the way Engie’s contracts are implemented as a pretext to further reduce supplies to France,” Agnes Panier-Rinachet said in a statement issued overnight.

These statements were made a few hours after the announcement of the Russian energy giant Gazprom that from Thursday will completely suspend natural gas deliveries to Engie, the French energy company, citing a payment dispute. The move is expected to deepen concerns about Europe’s winter energy supply.

“France has been preparing for this scenario since the spring (…)” stressed Panier-Rinachet, who pointed out that France had already reduced its exposure to Russian gas imports to 9% from about double the figure before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Engie declined to comment.

Asked about Gazprom’s announcement, Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne replied yesterday, Tuesday evening, that Engie has other sources of supply, without elaborating further.

Households will not be cut off from the gas network if there are shortages, but businesses, which Paris is urging to help save energy amid the current crisis, may face such a risk, the prime minister added.

Nord Stream

Separately, Russia today temporarily suspended gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to European countries, citing maintenance work, for three days.

European governments fear that further gas supply restrictions will exacerbate an energy crisis that has already driven wholesale gas prices up more than 400% since last August.

French regulator CRE chief Emmanuel Vargon also said today that France will have enough natural gas supplies to see it through next winter, but added that lower nuclear power generation may need to import electricity from time to time.

“We are not too worried about our ability to have sufficient gas, we are confident that we will be able to get through this winter without Russian gas,” Vargon said in a statement to the LCI network.

He also said that France will have achieved 100% gas reserves by the end of September or early October.

“For natural gas, the price is more of a concern than getting the volume we need,” he pointed out, however.

Due to outages at several French nuclear power plants, the country — which has traditionally been a net energy exporter — may have to temporarily depend on imports, he said.

“Current energy prices reflect the worst-case scenario,” she said, noting that the most difficult situation would be high demand due to a particularly cold winter combined with low supply of renewable energy due to days without sunshine and wind.

The head of the French regulator also pointed out that it should be possible to reduce French energy consumption by around 10% through a general power saving effort as recommended by the government.

RES-EMP

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