Belgium pumps gas to Germany, while EU members agree on reduction of gas consumption

While European Union member states agreed this Tuesday on a voluntary reduction of their gas consumption by 15 percent, Germany is rushing to find gas elsewhere in the world, as supplies from Russia are increasingly compromised. Belgium became one of Germany's most important supply routes in just a few months’ time, with a fifth of the total need, Trends magazine writes.

By the end of 2024, Europe’s largest economy want to reduce its Russian gas imports entirely to zero. Down from a whopping 55 percent market share in 2020, the Russian share of German gas imports already shrank to a quarter at the beginning of July. This happened mainly due to measures taken by Moscow itself, which sent less gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Germany has therefore started a race against the clock to ensure that its gas reservoirs are sufficiently full by the winter. In the past few months, Germany has already bought 15 billion euros worth of gas elsewhere in the world. According to reporting by Trends, Belgium has become one of Germany’s most important suppliers, besides the Netherlands and Norway.

The supply of gas from Belgium has grown exponentially, confirms Ulrike Platz, the spokesperson of the German Federal Network Agency. “In recent months, we received a lot of gas via the LNG terminals of Rotterdam and Zeebrugge. Last year in June, 0,2 terrawatt hours of gas flowed through the Belgian pipelines to Germany. This year, it was 24 terrawatt hours in the same month. Even though our country accounts for about a fifth of Germany’s import, “the Fluxys network is perfectly capable of handling these gas flows," spokesman Laurent Remy told Trends magazine.

Belgium, as a transit country, will be able to count on a certain amount of leniancy concerning the agreement reached by EU member states on Tuesday to reduce their gas consumption by 15 percent. The deal was reached in order to reduce the dependence on Russian gas.

Only 5 percent of Belgian gas imports come from Russia. The majority is imported from Norway and England, the lion’s share of which is then exported to France and Germany

Several countries, including Belgium, had expressed doubts about the proposal. The 27 agreed to reduce their gas demand by 15 percent between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023 with measures of their own choosing. However, the European Council provides for a number of exceptions and possibilities for requesting a derogation. Member States can request a derogation if they have limited interconnectivity with other EU countries and if they can demonstrate that their export capacity or domestic LNG infrastructure is being used to transport gas to other countries. Belgium, as a transit country, falls under these conditions.

Only 5 percent of Belgian gas imports come from Russia. The majority is imported from Norway and England, or enters via the terminal in the port of Zeebrugge. The lion’s share of this gas is then exported to France and Germany: roughly two to three times our own consumption.

The agreement will benefit our families and companies, Belgian Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (green party) told Belga News Agency on Tuesday. “If we reach a 15 percent reduction together, the coming winter will not pose a problem and everything will remain calm”, the minister assured. The exception obtained by our country means that the gas we import for subsequent export is not counted in the total that needs to be reduced. “In this way, we can use our infrastructure at all times to be less dependent on Russian gas.”




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