June 23. 2024. 8:16

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Slovakia will survive winter even without Russian gas, says economy minister

It is already likely that Slovakia will survive next winter even if Russian natural gas imports to Europe stop completely, said Economy Minister Karel Hirman.

The reason is the continuing efforts of Slovak suppliers to diversify the imports. On Tuesday, the biggest supplier in the country, SPP announced it had renewed its contract with British energy giant BP, which exports gas to Slovakia from gas fields in the North Sea, until 2024.

SPP also extended its cooperation with ExxonMobil to supply gas from its global portfolio. New contracts for the purchase of natural gas have been signed with Shell, ENI and RWE for 2023 and 2024.

SPP can currently cover around 70% of its customers’ consumption from a non-Russian source. “Last year, we achieved a remarkable success, diversifying our gas supply substantially in record time, already accounting for more than 36% of our gas supply in 2022,” said the company’s CEO, Miroslav Kulla.

“Our focus is currently not only on the 2023/2024 heating season but also on the following 2024/2025 heating season, a consequence of the supply and demand backlog, which is expected to stabilise only in 2026 with the completion of LNG terminals, new regasification units and the improvement of the natural gas transportation infrastructure in Europe,” Kulla added.

Hirman noted that smaller Slovak suppliers such as ZSE or VSE also hold substantial reserves in their gas storages. In total, Slovak gas reserves are still 60% full after the winter. “Such volumes were common in previous years, sometimes at Christmas, at the beginning of the heating season,” added Hirman.

On average, gas storages across the EU are currently filled to around 55%.

Compared to last year, Slovakia has saved over 20% of consumption due to the mild winter and savings measures on the part of consumers, Hirman added.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk)