STA, 26 July 2022 - Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said there would be no rationing in the supply of natural gas to households in Slovenia this winter, as he attended a meeting of EU ministers in charge of energy in Brussels on Tuesday that agreed on rationing in gas consumption.
Many things would have to go wrong for gas supply disruptions to occur, Kumer said, adding that "if the only thing that happens is Russia stopping the supply of gas, there would be no serious challenges for supply in Slovenia".
This is especially true if the regulation on the reduction of gas consumption by 15% by March 2023, which was agreed on today, achieved its purpose, the minister added.
According to him, EU member states have made a very clear commitment to do more on a voluntary basis and express solidarity. "This positive approach truly fills us all with optimism."
Kumer noted that for the natural gas supply in Slovenia to be disrupted, "a lot of things would have to go wrong", including supply interruptions, a really severe winter and disruptions in the supply from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.
Slovenia is very well connected with its neighbouring countries and, due to its small size, has a very low gas consumption compared to Italy, Croatia and Austria.
"This means that at least this protected segment, which accounts for approximately 20% of the annual consumption, can be quickly covered and supplied with other systems," the minister added.
This means that, according to Kumer, there is no fear there will be rationing in the supply of natural gas to households in the coming winter. "Absolutely not."
The EU ministers today confirmed the proposed European Commission regulation that sets a target of voluntary cut in gas consumption from 1 August to 31 March 2023 by 15% compared to the average gas consumption between August and March in the last five years.
There is also the possibility of mandatory cuts, where several exceptions are envisaged, including for island and Baltic countries, as well as for countries that are heavily dependent on gas for electricity production.
Kumer said that, when it comes to exceptions, it is crucial for Slovenia that these do not result in Slovenia becoming less competitive in terms of reducing gas consumption.
Slovenia could exercise exceptions for the supply of protected categories, such as households, healthcare and social institutions, he said, noting that there was also the exception related to the use of gas for electricity production.
Substituting natural gas with other fuel in the production of electricity could be one in a combination of various measures with which Slovenia could reduce gas consumption by 15%, Kumer said, adding that businesses could substitute natural gas with LPG.
It is precisely industry and businesses that account for over 70% of total natural gas consumption in Slovenia, so the government will advocate for industry and businesses to organise themselves and limit consumption on a voluntary basis, the minister said.
In addition, the government has already adopted recommendations for the public sector to introduce less intensive cooling in the summer and less intensive heating in the winter.
As for possible mandatory measures, Kumer said responses on a voluntary basis should be seen first, which will also be a topic of discussion on Thursday of the crisis task force headed by the minister.
"If all these measures on a voluntary basis fail to work, tougher measures will probably have to be taken," he said, adding that this would be made possible by the emergency legislation that was being drafted.
At the meeting, the minister commended the solidarity expressed by Italy, with which Slovenia signed an agreement on solidarity measures to ensure the reliability of gas supply.
Slovenia is in talks for similar agreement with Croatia and Austria. Croatia's Davor Filipović told his Slovenian counterpart that internal procedures had been accelerated and that he saw no obstacles for the agreement to be signed by the autumn.
Full support for speeding up the procedures to sign a relevant agreement with Austria has also been expressed by Minister of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology Leonore Gewessler, the minister said.