About six million households in the United Kingdom could experience blackouts this winter if Kremlin cuts off gas supplies to Europe.
The Times news website cited a Whitehall document that said imports of natural gas from Norway could be cut in half next winter amid surging European Union (EU) demand. The U.K. takes around half of its total supply from the Scandinavian country.
Shipments of liquefied natural gas from major producers such as the United States and Qatar could also be cut in half this winter, the report further stated.
The document also stated that Britain will receive no imports of gas from interconnectors in the Netherlands and Belgium as they face their own emergencies.
Earlier this month, the U.K.’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) warned of a likely energy price cap increase “in the region of £2,800 ($3,496).”
The Whitehall officials have drawn up a plan for the winter to prepare for a worst-case scenario. This could lead to the rationing of electricity for up to six million homes at the start of 2023, should Russia start to stop gas supply to the continent.
The U.K. vowed to end the importation of Russian oil by the end of the year, but is now seeking to bolster its electricity supply by extending the life of its coal and aging nuclear power stations.
In connection to this, the Somerset nuclear power plant Hinkley Point B could be extended by 18 months, despite plans to decommission the 50-year-old facility this summer.
The paper further explains that heavy industrial facilities could be told to stop using gas, while U.K. gas-fired power plants could be closed in order to preserve limited supplies. (Related: Renewables put Europe’s electrical energy at the mercy of Russia.)
This will reportedly result in electricity shortages and British households being subjected to blackouts during peak times on weekday mornings and evenings.
If Russia cuts supplies of natural gas to the EU entirely, blackouts could last for three months starting in December, and occur on both weekdays and weekends, the report said.
Despite the looming energy crisis and the imminent cold winter due to blackouts, the U.K. has announced in May another sanction against the Russian airline sector.
The state-owned Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines are now unable to sell their unused, lucrative landing slots at the U.K. airports.
“As long as Putin continues his assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy. We’ve already closed our airspace to Russian airlines,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said
“The UK was one of the first nations to implement sanctions on Putin and his allies; we forbade entrance to their ships and planes, strangling them of the privilege to benefit from global trade and commerce,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added.
International sanctions against Russia led to several weapons manufacturers having to suspend their activity due to a lack of parts. Defense company capabilities have been restricted, limiting Russia’s ability to replace advanced technology, including drones. Russia’s domestic vehicle sales have also dropped by 80 percent partly due to a lack of components.
In May, medical aid donations from the U.K. to Ukraine reached more than 11 million items.
“New ambulances, fire engines, funding for health experts and life-saving medical supplies are being donated to Ukraine as part of the U.K.’s continued steadfast solidarity with the country,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in April.
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