French industry switches from gas to oil amid uncertainty over Russian supplies

Major energy-intensive industries in France are seeking to convert gas boilers to run on oil as French and European companies brace for a further decline or a complete halt in Russian gas deliveries to Europe, Reuters reports.

No Russian gas supply would affect many energy-intensive industries in Europe, including its biggest economies, Germany, France and Italy.

Russia has already cut gas supplies through Nord Stream by 60% in the past month and has just started regular maintenance of the pipeline that carries gas to Germany.

The two-week maintenance is due to end on July 22, but EU member states fear Russia will restore supply through the pipeline once the maintenance period ends.

With these concerns in mind, industries across Europe and in France are accelerating their plans to replace gas with oil and even coal to avoid more costly shutdowns.

“What we have done is we have converted our boilers, so that they are able to run on gas or oil, and we can even switch to coal if we need to”, Florent Menegaux, managing director of Michelin, one of the world’s largest tire makers, said at a conference in France over the weekend, as reported by Reuters.

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Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said the industry needed to prepare for gas and electricity shortages.

“Let’s prepare for a Russian gas cut,” Le Maire told the conference. “Today is the most likely scenario.”

In addition to possible gas shortages, France has had problems with its nuclear power generation this year, which has reduced the supply of electricity available in France and Europe and pushed up electricity prices. in France for next year. France’s nuclear electricity production accounts for around 70% of its electricity mix and, when its reactors are fully operational, it is a net exporter of electricity to other European countries. However, the prolonged maintenance of several nuclear reactors this year means that France – and the rest of Europe – now has less nuclear power. In addition, electricity giant EDF warned last week that it may have to cut nuclear power generation this summer due to environmental regulations, as river water levels are low and temperatures in the high water.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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