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Energy crisis dominates European agenda as winter nears

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PARIS, FRANCE - Volunteer youth living in the suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois reduce the expected time to buy fuel from a few hours to 20 minutes by streamlining the petrol queues, which took hours in front of stations and turned into torture for drivers due to limited fuel supply in Paris, France on October 15, 2022. (Esra Taşkın - Anadolu Agency)
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Oct 20, 2022 - 02:00 AM

ANKARA (AA) – Europe is facing a deepening energy crisis as it gets closer to its winter season. One of the main causes is the Russia-Ukraine war, as Moscow has suspended the supplies of the natural gas in response to sanctions imposed by the West.

In response, European governments continue to diversify their supplies, and introduce measures to reduce demand and save energy.

EU leaders will convene in Brussels this week to find a joint solution to tackle the energy crisis.

Germany

In search for cheap alternatives due to the energy crisis, more and more Germans are falling victim to fraudulent offers for cheap firewood on the internet.

In addition to the dubious offers on the internet, wood theft in the forests is also on the rise in Germany.

Meanwhile, Aldi Nord, one of the country’s leading retailers, has announced it will start closing its stores earlier in the evenings.

Operating hours of “numerous stores” would be adjusted, the company said on Twitter.

From November, stores will close at 8 p.m. (1800GMT), with the measure to be initially applied during the 2022-23 winter period.

Stores of electronics chain Saturn and department stores of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof group have already shut down their escalators.

Two stores of Swedish furniture company IKEA in the southwestern state of Saarland have also cut down their operating hours.

Meanwhile, retailer Otto Group has asked many employees to work from home, while heating its office buildings to just 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).

Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest automaker, plans to heat its production halls to only 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with workers to be given warmer clothing in return.

Similarly, Jungheinrich, the world’s third-largest intralogistics and mechanical engineering company, plans to distribute fleece jackets to its employees.

Spain

Spain’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage capacity is nearly full, which could lead to delays in offloading new shipments, the country’s national gas grid operator told Anadolu Agency.

According to an Enagas spokesperson, Spain’s underground gas reserves are 93% full, and its regasification terminals are at around 80% capacity.

The nearly full reserves triggered Enagas to declare an “exceptional operating situation” this week, announcing that some offloading may be postponed and that any requests to unload extra LNG will be denied.

Spain’s national gas grid operator said there was a “mismatch” between supplies programmed for October and demand.

Exceptionally warm temperatures in Spain and an unexpectedly dramatic reduction in industrial demand are two key factors behind the “mismatch.”

Enagas predicts gas reserves will remain “very high” until the first week of November.

EU leaders to discuss energy crisis

The EU will discuss the energy crisis at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

“EU leaders will assess the state of energy prices and security of supply, including market optimization measures and progress on demand reduction. They will also decide on any further action that needs to be taken,” said European Council President Charles Michel, adding that the meeting will follow up on an informal European Council meeting held on Oct. 7 in Prague, the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

The focus of the discussions will be reducing electricity demand, enhancing the security of supplies, and guaranteeing affordable prices for households and businesses.

Michel said they “must act with the utmost urgency” on the energy crisis, adding: “We must imperatively intensify our three lines of action: reducing demand, ensuring security of supply, and containing prices.”

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