Households and critical infrastructure to receive gas if supplies cut

If there were an extreme shortage of natural gas in the Czech Republic supplies would only be maintained to households and critical infrastructure such as hospitals, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade told the Czech News Agency.

The ministry has a system of ten “consumption levels” in place in case gas supplies dry up. At the first level it would no longer be provided to customers able to switch to other types of fuel.

On Wednesday Russia’s Gazprom turned the taps off on Poland and Bulgaria, saying this was because of their refusal to pay for gas in roubles as Moscow has demanded.

The Czech minister of industry and trade, Jozef Síkela, says the country has gas reserves of around 925 million cubic metres, up from 391 million cubic metres this time last year.

The current reserves are equivalent to around two months’ regular consumption. If regulation were introduced, these supplies would suffice for a considerably longer period, Mr. Síkela told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The minister said his officials and the government had been working in recent days and weeks to ensure that a critical shortage of gas stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine does not occur or is “dampened”.

If the country has to deal with a critical gas shortage, statutory regulatory levels are in place. A situation in which only households and key infrastructure would receive gas would only occur in the final stages of that system, the minister said.

The vast majority of gas in the Czech network enters from the eastern part of Germany. The interruption of Russian gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria should not affect gas supplies to the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency said.

In line with a pan-European goal of gradually weaning off supplies from Russia, the Czech Republic is currently preparing a strategy for diversifying supplies and transport routes, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said.

Legislation that would allow for the receipt of Norwegian gas in the Czech Republic is being prepared. According to preliminary information, supplies from Norway could cover about a quarter of domestic consumption, the Czech News Agency said.