EU countries could carry out fire drill-style tests which simulate gas supply disruptions under new plans to check how well they can cope in a crisis.
The “stress tests” idea was announced today by Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, as part of a new Energy Security Strategy.
The tests would take place on the regional or EU level, suggested a statement from the Commission, with the results used to create emergency plans and back-up mechanisms.
Boosting gas stocks, decreasing gas demand by switching fuels for heating and building “emergency infrastructure” such as reverse flow pipes – where the direction of gas in pipes is changed – could be picked.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso warned the EU “remains vulnerable” despite action since the last Russia-Ukraine gas crisis in 2009.
He said: “The tensions over Ukraine again drove home this message. In the light of an overall energy import dependency of more than 50% we have to make further steps. The Commission has tabled a comprehensive strategy today which will be discussed by EU leaders in June.”
Mr Oettinger said: “We want strong and stable partnerships with important suppliers but must avoid falling victim to political and commercial blackmail.”
He said EU member States have “a long list of homework in front of them”, such as reinforcing solidarity with more vulnerable members, finishing the internal energy market, improving infrastructure, becoming more energy efficient and better exploiting “our own energy resources”.
These actions were all included in the Energy Security Strategy.
Mr Oettinger added “only concrete actions” will help the continent find a wider range of gas suppliers.