Gas: EU ministers unsatisfied with price cap proposal

European Union (EU) energy ministers in Brussels on Thursday discussed a new proposal to limit the wholesale price of gas under strict conditions, with several ministers showing their discontentment upon arrival.

“The gas price cap, which is in the document currently, doesn’t satisfy any single country. It’s a kind of joke for us after so many months of discussions,’’ said Polish Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa.

After repeated calls for a legislative proposal for a gas price cap from some member states, the European Commission presented earlier this week a proposal for capping the price of gas traded at the Dutch reference hub Title Transfer Facility (TTF).

The cap would take effect automatically on the month-ahead price of gas if the price exceeds 275 euros (283.9 dollars) per megawatt hour for two weeks and the spread to global liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices is 58 euros or higher conditions that make it uncertain if the measure would ever be applied.

“That definitely is not what we have asked for as part of the block of 15 countries that wanted a cap on the price of gas,’’ said Malta’s Energy Minister Miriam Dalli.

“Obviously, the proposal that is on the table, it’s definitely not fit for purpose,’’ she added.

TTF price peaks last August at close to 350 euros per megawatt hour would not have been sufficient to trigger the cap as prices fell below the 275 euros threshold within less than two weeks, the commission said.

Currently, the price stands at around 120 euros, which is still significantly higher than before tensions with Russia heightened.

Also, ministers from France, Belgium, and Italy were among those unsatisfied with the commission’s proposal.

“There are different views among the member states. In summary, one can say that everyone is somehow unhappy,’’ said German State Secretary Sven Giegold.

Germany is one of the EU countries skeptical about a gas price cap.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,’’ Giegold added.

Estonia’s Economy and Infrastructure, Minister Riina Sikkut signaled support, saying her country is willing to negotiate and the proposal on the table is okay pretty much.

Luxembourg’s Energy Minister Claude Turmes called for calm upon arrival.

The Czech minister in charge of energy expected a rather spicy discussion among ministers.

First, there was a problem because the commission did not put forward a proposal; now with the proposal on the table there was a different problem, said Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela, who was chairing the talks.

Next to the TTF price cap, energy ministers were due to discuss quicker permitting procedures for some renewable energy projects to boost domestic energy production.

Ministers are also expected to deal with measures to strengthen solidarity between EU countries amid the rush to replace Russian gas imports with fuel from elsewhere, including the setting up of a platform to purchase gas jointly and streamlined support agreements between capitals.

Síkela announced that Ukrainian Energy Minister German, Galushchenko will join the meeting online to update EU ministers on the current situation in Ukraine after repeated Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities. (dpa/NAN) 

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