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Europe told to get ready now for Russia to turn off all gas exports to region

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theguardian.com

Europe needs to prepare immediately for Russia to turn off all gas exports to the region this winter, according to the head of the International Energy Agency, who has called on governments to work on reducing demand and keeping nuclear power plants open.Fatih Birol said reductions in supplies in recent weeks the Kremlin has attributed to maintenance work could, in fact, be the beginning of wider cuts designed to prevent the filling of storage facilities in preparation for winter, as Russia seeks to gain leverage over the region.“Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “The nearer we are coming to winter, the more we understand Russia’s intentions.“I believe the cuts are geared towards avoiding Europe filling storage, and increasing Russia’s leverage in the winter months.”EU countries are racing to refill storage sites, with Germany hoping to reach 90% of capacity by November.

Its stores are only half full.Member states have also been working to reduce their reliance on Russian fossil fuels, by sourcing gas from other countries, including the US, and by speeding up the switch to renewable energy, although officials have conceded that the race to phase out Russian oil and gas would mean burning more coal and keeping nuclear plants going.Birol said emergency measures taken by European governments to reduce energy demand had probably not gone far enough, and urged countries to work on preserving energy supplies.“I believe there will be more and deeper demand measures as winter approaches,” Birol said.

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