The government’s energy emergency protocol ignores Russia as a risk

The Government maintains an energy contingency plan that does not consider Russia as a risk factor. This is the emergency protocol of the Spanish gas system in force since 2019, valid until 2024. After five months of war in Ukraine -and only four for the cold to return- the Executive has not yet updated this documentdespite the exchange of reproaches and economic sanctions that the European Union and the Kremlin exchange daily since the beginning of the armed conflict.

In fact, both the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Theresa Riveraas the head of Industry, Kings Maroto, have accelerated in recent days the contacts with social agents, consumers and representatives of the energy sector. The objective of this round of meetings is to refine a new contingency plan before july 26when the European Council has convened an extraordinary meeting to assess the proposals of the Member States, in order to carry out a joint strategy to face possible -and, in the eyes of the sector, increasingly probable- prolonged cuts in the flow of gas Russian bound for Community territory.

Ribera has scheduled an intensive day of contacts for this Thursday to address this matter. At 8:30 he meets with consumer organizations. At 11:00, meeting with the electricity (Aelec) and gas (Sedigas) employers. At 17:00, conclave with the oil lobby. The minister will close the round with a ‘face to face’ meeting with the social agents. For their part, the representatives of the electro-intensive industry attended the call of the Executive this Tuesday. All those summoned have been required maximum discretion. Despite the constant threats of an energy blockade that Vladimir Putin’s government has carried out, the Government has not moved to renew its emergency plan until it feels the ‘push’ from Brussels.

The Community Executive obliges the Twenty-seven to have two complementary roadmaps against eventual gas supply problems. Namely, a preventive action plan and an emergency protocol that serve to shield the gas system of each Member State against any eventuality. These must compile the necessary measures to face potential threats to gas supply, such as those derived from the energy transition or those detected in common and national risk assessments. They must also include the actions planned for eliminate or mitigate the impact of power outages.

The Government has thrown balls out when it has been questioned by Vox in Congress about the crisis of supply and gas prices

Both documents must be submitted to public consultation. In the case of the contingency plan that the Ecological Transition team has begun to design against the clock, everything indicates that there will not be time to submit it to this official procedure. The final strategy, however, will drink from the contributions made by all interest groups.

In the case of Spain, neither of the two current protocols values ​​Russia as an element of risk. In the more than one hundred pages that add up to both documents no allusion to Moscow. In this group yes include countries like Algeria or Norway. It so happens that last June Spain triggered purchases of Russian gas, which meant 24.4% of gas supplies, surpassing for the first time the Algerian country, whose weight was 21.6%, according to the latest Enagás monthly bulletin. In the same period of 2021, entries from Russia accounted for just over 19% of the national supply.

This does not mean that the gas supply in Spain is compromised. The strength of the infrastructures and the diversity of supply sources in our country limit the exposure to Russia. Industry sources have been cautious about analyzing this recent spike in Russian gas inflows, saying it is difficult to draw conclusions from a single month’s picture. All in all, it is expected that after the contacts that are being developed to refine the Spanish proposal, Russia will be incorporated for the first time as one of the main risk factors.

From the gas sector they assure that they have done their homework and emphasize that gas storage levels in Spain exceed those of most of the countries of the Union. Business sources frame the Government’s acceleration in Brussels’ fear of a permanent closure of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which Russia has blocked this week, a priori, temporarily for technical reasons.

This situation has put countries like Germany in a limit situation. “And when Germany sneezes, it is already known that all of Europe catches a cold”, says a source from the business world close to the contacts that Ribera is leading. From the sector they clarify that in 2019, when the emergency plans still in force were approved, Moscow was not yet in the focus of the international community. Although they agree that the Government has returned to “catch the bull” after almost half a year of war. The fear of a possible gas supply crisis is already the focus of political debate.

The Government threw balls out to the question that the Vox parliamentary group registered in Congress on the effects on the security of supply and the prices that could arise for the Spanish market due to possible peaks in foreign demand as a result of the Russian blockade. The Executive limited itself to repeating what is included in the law and pointed to the gas marketing companies, of which it assured “they freely negotiate the commercial and logistical conditions of their supplies.” A reading that eludes the responsibility of the Government, for example, in the diplomatic crisis with Algeria, which has led to a massive upward revision by the Maghreb country of supply contracts signed with Spanish companies. No option to replicate.