Brussels – Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec underscored the need to diversify the EU’s gas supplies and to synchronise Ukraine’s power grid with Europe’s as he addressed reporters after an emergency EU ministerial in Brussels discussed the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the energy market.
Being that the EU depends heavily on Russian gas, diversification of oil and gas supply sources is urgently needed to ensure that gas and oil supplies are not disrupted by escalations such as the current one and potential future tensions, said Vrtovec.
“Gas supplies in the EU and Slovenia so far are stable. There are no problems at the moment due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” he said in arguing why diversification was needed.
Slovenia shares the view about liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals as a solution that is absolutely needed to diversify. “We have called on the European Commission too to shorten various permits and procedures,” he said, adding that other member states also had such interests, in particular Germany.
In response to those proposals, Alpe Adra Green, an international environmental NGO, has pledged to do everything in its power to prevent such a terminal from being built in the north Adriatic.
Slovenia and other EU member states today also called on the European Commission to put forward as soon as possible a regulation that would require all managers to fill up gas storages ahead of winter.
“This is particularly needed in view of the fact that gas prices could go up again. We could get into a bigger problem because of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, and see even higher prices than we have this winter,” said the minister.
EU storage facilities are currently 30% full, he said, adding that even if consumption is falling, they needed to be start filing up fast to prepare well for the autumn and winter.
He also believes that member states should step up their efforts to negotiate and adopt gas solidarity agreements as soon as possible. “These agreements will provide us with some safety net in case of major supply disruption,” he said.
Vrtovec also supported linking the EU’s and Ukraine’s electricity grids. “Ukraine is part of Europe in that respect as well as we strongly support it there.”
The Green Deal is still part of the solution, he said. “We know renewable energy sources alone will not be enough, which is why we are continuing all procedures with new technologies,” he said. Slovenia has been advocating nuclear technology in particular to reduce its dependence on imports of fossil fuels.
Vrtovec reiterated Slovenia’s condemnation of Russian invasion and hailed the EU’s “fast, resolute and united response” to the situation and support to the European Commission and member states to deal with the fallout and challenges, and provide the necessary aid to Ukraine.