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EU bracing for blackouts in winter already presumed cold without Russian gas

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A water tower and high-voltage line pylons are seen in a field in Normandy, France, on August 10, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union (EU)’s crisis management commissioner says the energy supply crisis in Europe could lead to widespread power outages in the bloc in the winter, confirming widespread concerns about tough times ahead for European citizens amid a standoff with Russia over Ukraine.

“The EU is preparing for two conceivable scenarios,” Commissioner Janez Lenarcic told Hanover-based RND media, “one in which a few member states experience power cuts, and another in which blackouts occur in many member states at the same time.”

She said other EU states could provide help to affected countries in the first scenario. In the second, though, she said, the European Commission could be forced to use its strategic energy reserve.

Europe is facing an energy crisis in part caused by a dispute with Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia began what it calls a “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24. Since then, the United States and its European allies have been slapping sanctions on Moscow.

Russia has in turn almost cut its flow of natural gas to Europe, although it has cited technical difficulties caused by the sanctions for the cutback. That has subsequently led to an unprecedented energy crisis across Europe.

On Wednesday, OPEC Plus approved the cut of 2 million bpd of its output, equal to 2% of global supply, further straining the market, dashing US hopes for lower oil prices, and potentially complicating the energy crisis for Europe.

In addition to power outages and soaring energy prices, Telecoms industry officials say they fear a severe winter will put Europe’s telecoms infrastructure to the test, forcing companies and governments to try to mitigate the impact.

Currently, there are not enough backup systems in many European countries to handle widespread power cuts, four telecoms executives said, raising the prospect of mobile phone outages across Europe as well.


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