Dutch city of The Hague to ask for short EU sanctions exemption to get Russia gas deliveries

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A monument to Ukrainian poet and writer Taras Shevchenko is silhouetted against a building with a sign advertising Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom, in Moscow.

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The Dutch city of The Hague said that it will apply for a temporary waiver of EU sanctions against Russia to continue receiving gas from Gazprom as it struggles to find an alternative supplier.

In a letter to the city council sent earlier this week, alderman Saskia Bruines wrote that a European tender in June and July to secure gas from alternative suppliers has failed to get any bids. 

European governments and public bodies are required by the bloc’s fifth package of sanctions against Russia over its full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine to end existing contracts with Russian companies by 10 October at the latest. 

“Limited exceptions may be granted by the competent authorities where there is no viable alternative,” the European Commission said at the time

This is what the Netherlands’ third-biggest city, which has a pre-existing contract with Gazprom, now intends to do.

Bruines wrote that the city is now in negotiations with a number of potential suppliers for a contract that would start on 1 January 2023, and that as such “we will ask for an exemption for our current arrangement until Jan. 1 2023 to guarantee the safety of supply and to facilitate negotiations.”

She opined that the waiver “will (most likely) be granted as the condition for this has been met, namely a timely tender procedure for a new gas contract.”

She warned however that the new contract “will lead to (significantly) higher costs for natural gas” and that “with the current volatile market, it is not yet possible to make a concrete statement on the extent of the increase.”

“It remains therefore of great importance to take measures to reduce the consumption of natural gas. The ultimate goal is to stop using natural gas altogether. Direct savings opportunities, such as turning down the thermostat in cold periods, are already being prepared,” she said.

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