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French energy giants: Reduce fuel and electricity use now

PARIS (AP) – Leaders of three French energy companies yesterday called on the French public to immediately reduce consumption of fuel, oil, electricity and gas amid shortages and soaring prices due to Russia’s supply cuts and the war in Ukraine.

“The effort must be immediate, collective and massive,” the leaders of the three companies, TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie said in a rare joint statement that was published in the French weekly Journal du Dimanche. “Every gesture counts,” the statement said.

Russia has cut – and in some case shut off – gas supplies to several European Union (EU) countries in retaliation for the 27-member bloc’s sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

For months, the European energy system has been under severe strain and the French energy system has not been spared. The level of alert on gas stocks across the continent is high and rationing measures have been put in place.

France, like other European countries, is trying to beef up its gas reserves for winter, aiming to fill up its storage by early autumn to avert an economic and political crisis.

“Taking action in the summer will prepare us for winter,” the energy companies’ leaders said.

In addition to the gas supply shortages linked to the war in Ukraine, there are pressures on electricity production capacities in Europe and reductions in hydroelectric production due to drought. “The soaring energy prices are a result of these difficulties that threaten our social and political cohesion and have a heavy impact on purchasing power of families,” the
statement said.

TotalEnergies tower in La Defense business district outside Paris in 2021. PHOTO: AP