Belgium should not announce an ‘early warning’ about gas supplies today, but that does not mean that the situation is not serious. This is what the Cabinet of Federal Minister of energy Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) says in response to the German decision to announce the second phase of the National Emergency Plan natural gas.
Compared to many other European countries, Germany is very dependent on Russian gas. Before the war, more than half of Germany’s gas imports came from Russia. Our country is in permanent contact with neighbouring countries and is closely monitoring the impact on Belgium, the Van der Straeten cabinet emphasises. For example, last weekend our country was informed about the possibility of the second stage. Belgium was also informed about the plans of the Netherlands, which announced the ’early warning’ on Monday.
The situation in our country is closely monitored. On Sunday, consultations took place between Fluxys, the administration and the Cabinet. And that analysis shows that there are currently no elements to announce an early warning. Belgium has the advantage of having little Russian gas in its network. In addition, with the port of Zeebrugge, but also with the northern French Dunkirk, we have an important gateway for natural gas.
Specifically, our country currently exports high-calorific gas to Germany at maximum capacity at daily averages of 750 GWh/d. Belgium currently exports 433 GWh/d of high-calorific gas to the Netherlands. The high calorific gas consumption in Belgium is currently around 325 GWh / d. in other words, Belgium exports up to 3.5 times its own consumption to Germany and the Netherlands at maximum capacity. On an annual basis, gas consumption in our country goes to our families and SMEs for 53.5 percent, to industry for 24.5 percent and to electricity production for 22 percent.
But it is not because no early warning is issued that the situation is not serious. The risk that prices will continue to rise and remain high is real. “Energy is being used as a weapon and in the light of the energy war it is all the more important to be prepared for all scenarios. It is therefore essential to prepare on all fronts together with our neighbours,” he said.
The emergency plans have three phases. The first two phases are based on market-based measures to reduce consumption, with the degree of urgency being the difference between the two. The third stage involves non-market-based measures. It is the government that intervenes.