Bulgarian enterprises are seriously worried about how our country plans to implement the EU recommendation for savings in natural gas consumption by 15%. According to the accounts of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, we will have to save about 475 billion cubic meters in the next winter, it is expected that the gas will be reduced. A cause for concern for companies comes from the fact that the government has not yet specified how exactly the reduction will take place and whether it affects all consumers of natural gas in our country. Plans to date have always specified that secure and residential users are not covered by the recommendation.
Here is the BSK letter sent today to the government and the media:
As a result of the adopted Council Regulation 361 of 20.07.2022 regarding the implementation of coordinated measures for the reduction of gas consumption by EU member states, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce - Union of Bulgarian Business received a number of inquiries and signals from our members with uninterrupted production processes regarding the urgent need to provide information and transparency of the planned actions at the national level for implementing the measures of the plan.
The period of validity of the aforementioned regulation is from 01.08.2022 to 31.03.2023. It stipulates the voluntary reduction of natural gas consumption by 15%. Taking into account the development of the events in the natural gas markets and the geopolitical situation, it is likely that this goal will become mandatory, which would mean a reduction in the consumption of natural gas in the country by about 475 billion m3. For a number of industrial productions, such a reduction is impossible, since they use natural gas as a raw material for production, or in cases where it is used as an energy source, switching to another fuel base is a time-consuming and expensive process that is difficult to implement within the framework of few months. Unforeseen and unplanned reduction of natural gas consumption will have a negative impact on the fulfillment of already concluded contracts or in disruption of fulfillment of orders and contraction of the production of industrial enterprises.
At the same time, the EC issued Communication 360 of 2022 "Save gas for safe winter", in the annex of which the guidelines for drawing up a plan to reduce the consumption of natural gas are presented through the following approaches: preventive measures and good practices; criteria for prioritizing critical vulnerable users; crisis management and response stages.
In this regard, we are turning to you for clarification of the following questions, which are extremely important for the operational work of the enterprises:
1. What mechanisms for reducing consumption are envisaged, and in particular whether reduction of consumption by industrial users (industry) is also planned.
2. Have criteria been established to define critical vulnerable consumers, including the declaration of consumers or economic sectors as "essential to the economy or the supply chain".
3. Whether forms are foreseen for preventive notification of industrial users in case of reduction or suspension of natural gas supply. This information is necessary for the prevention of technological accidents in the event of a complete shutdown of natural gas, as well as for trouble-free operation, maintenance of production facilities in a working condition with the required degree of safety.
4. Are there any forms of compensation for the enterprises affected by the suspension or reduction of the supply of natural gas for the forced downtime.
5. In the plans for securing the quantities of natural gas necessary for the economic activity, is it foreseen to provide compensation to unprotected consumers when price levels are reached above a certain threshold.
We draw attention to the fact that the industry has already exhausted the possibilities of taking on an additional increase in the price levels of natural gas. The next increase will lead to a natural decrease in the consumption of natural gas for economic reasons, due to the suspension of the activities of the enterprises.
3eNews sent an inquiry on the subject to the Ministry of Energy and from there I asked for adjournment to prepare your answer.