EU ministers fail again on gas price cap to contain costs

Dec 12, 2022, 1:29 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2022, 11:57 am
FILE - Morning light lights the landfall facility of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the ...

FILE - Morning light lights the landfall facility of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the transfer station of the OPAL gas pipeline, the Baltic Sea Pipeline Link, in Lubmin, Germany, on July 21, 2022. The heads of the International Energy Agency and European Union's executive branch said Monday Dec. 12, 2022 that the 27-nation bloc is expected to weather an energy crisis this winter but needs to speed renewables to the market and take other steps to avoid a potential shortage next year in natural gas needed for heating, electricity and factories. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union energy ministers failed yet again to overcome their deep differences Tuesday on a natural gas price cap that many hope would make utility bills cheaper so people can stay a little warmer during harsh winter days — if not this year, then later.

The ministers emerged from their fifth emergency meeting emptyhanded because they cannot come to agreement on a maximum ceiling to pay for gas due to fear that global suppliers will simply bypass Europe when others offer more money.

“There was lots of progress but no final breakthrough yet,” said German minister Robert Habeck.

“We were so close today,” said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela, adding the ministers would meet again next Monday. “There will be only one open issue for the discussion on Monday and this is the price level triggering the mechanism” — which was the core dispute from the start.

Sikela said no one asked for the issue to be taken up at Thursday’s summit of EU leaders.

The 27 nations have stuck together through eight rounds of sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine and energy-saving measures to avoid shortages of the fuel used to generate electricity, heat homes and power factories. But they cannot close a deal on setting a complicated price cap that had been promised in October as a way to reduce energy bills that have soared because of Russia’s invasion.

“Now we have to get together and show unity is not an empty word,” said Sikela, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting. One side is demanding a cap to push down gas prices for households — including Greece, Spain, Belgium, France and Poland — while nations like Germany and the Netherlands are insisting supplies are at risk if a cap stops EU countries from buying gas above a certain price.

Dutch Minister Rob Jetten said that “we made good progress on making the system secure when it should be turned off” when the cap might have unexpected consequences like supply difficulties.

“But we still have work to do when and how the system should be turned on,” said Jetten.

The EU’s executive Commission last month proposed a “safety price ceiling” to kick in if natural gas exceeds 275 euros ($290) per megawatt hour for two weeks and if it is 58 euros higher than the price of liquefied natural gas on world markets. Such a system might not have averted hikes as high as in August — when prices hit nearly 350 euros per megawatt hour on Europe’s TTF benchmark but fell below 275 euros within days — and was met with derision. Gas is now trading at 140.55 euros per megawatt hour.

During the recent negotiations Tuesday figures ranged from 160 to 220 euros for the ceiling, officials said, but Sikela said different ceilings would need different triggers, making the debate on set ceilings largely moot.

The scare of exorbitant prices came in the heat of summer when a massive August spike stunned consumers and politicians, forcing the bloc to look for a cap to contain volatile prices that are fueling inflation. Months later, diplomats say a deal is still out of reach.

The inability to find a compromise on the price cap also has held up plans for joint gas purchases and a solidarity mechanism to help the neediest countries because the measures would be agreed on as a package.

On Monday, the heads of the International Energy Agency and the European Commission said the bloc is expected to weather an energy crisis this winter but needs to speed renewables to the market and take other steps to avoid a potential natural gas shortage next year.

Natural gas and electricity prices have soared as Moscow slashed gas supplies to Europe, whose officials have accused Russia of energy warfare to punish EU countries for supporting Ukraine.

As a result of trade disruptions tied to the war in Ukraine, EU nations have reduced the overall share of Russian natural gas imports to the EU from 40% before the invasion to around 7%. And gas storage is as good as full, far exceeding targets.

The EU has relied on increased imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from places like the United States to help address the fall in Russian supplies.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Zoubin Ghahramani, vice president of research at Google, speaks at the Google AI@ event on W...
Associated Press

Google has the next move as Microsoft embraces OpenAI buzz

Before the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT was unleashed into the world, the novelist Robin Sloan was testing a similar AI writing assistant built by researchers at Google.
19 hours ago
budgets...
Associated Press

Group’s lawsuit seeks to void Washington transportation law

A conservative legal advocacy organization is suing to halt the nearly $17 billion transportation funding bill passed by the Washington Legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year.
19 hours ago
This photo provided by Adriana Medina shows Guillermo Medina and his wife, Adriana, with their chil...
Associated Press

Recording: Wife told police mentally ill husband had gun

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police in Culver City, California, released body camera footage Thursday showing events before officers shot an unarmed man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the back last year, including audio recordings of his estranged wife telling police he was armed and dangerous. In the footage, officers are seen chasing after Guillermo Medina […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

UN envoy: Iraq’s new leaders must keep fighting corruption

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Iraq urged the country’s new government Thursday to keep fighting corruption and move quickly on much-needed economic, fiscal and financial reforms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the U.N. Security Council many other areas also need immediate government attention, among them ensuring human rights, resolving issues with the Kurdistan […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Voters wait in line outside a pavilion at Center Street Park shortly before the polling site...
Associated Press

Trump campaign staff on 2020 election lies: ‘fan the flame’

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A newly released audio recording offers a behind-the-scenes look at how former President Donald Trump’s campaign team in a pivotal battleground state knew they had been outflanked by Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. But even as they acknowledged defeat, they pivoted to allegations of widespread fraud that were ultimately debunked […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

ASEAN foreign ministers meet under shadow of Myanmar crisis

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Southeast Asian foreign ministers are meeting in Indonesia’s capital Friday for talks bound to be dominated by the deteriorating situation in Myanmar despite an agenda focused on food and energy security and cooperation in finance and health. Myanmar belongs to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but the annual ministers’ […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
EU ministers fail again on gas price cap to contain costs