EU says halt to Nord Stream 2 would not affect bloc's energy supply

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BRUSSELS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Europe's energy supply would not be affected if the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline designed to bring Russian gas to Germany was halted, since the pipeline is not yet operating, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

"Nord Stream 2 is not yet functioning, is not supplying energy to Europe. It's not a different source of energy, it's a different pipeline for an existing supplier... There's no change in the current situation," a Commission spokesperson told a regular press briefing.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday put on ice the certification of the pipeline after Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. read more

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Nord Stream 2 is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany, bypassing traditional transit nation Ukraine, on the bed of the Baltic Sea.

Russia currently supplies around 40% of Europe's gas.

A road sign directs traffic towards the Nord Stream 2 gas line landfall facility entrance in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Concerns about supply disruptions amid escalating tensions over Ukraine have led the EU to seek alternative supplies of gas in recent months, from countries including the United States, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Japan and South Korea.

European LNG imports hit a record high of around 11 bcm in January. The Commission has said its models suggest the EU could cope with a partial disruption to Russian gas supply this winter, pointing to current storage levels and countries' contingency plans for supply shocks.

Analysts have said a disruption could push up European gas prices, which have soared in recent months and prompted most EU countries to roll out emergency measures to shield citizens from rising bills.

The EU plans to limit its reliance on fossil fuel imports over the next decade and beyond, by shifting to renewable energy and using less energy. To meet its 2030 climate change target, the EU expects to reduce its natural gas consumption by more than 25% compared with 2015 levels.

Gas emits CO2 when burned, but is expected to retain a significant share of the EU energy mix in the near term as countries prioritise phasing out the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett, Editing by William Maclean

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