One of the most controversial pieces of energy infrastructure in Europe, a new gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, appears to be making progress in the Czech Republic. Prague has been in an awkward diplomatic spot over the proposed pipeline which is supported by Germany but vigorously opposed by Poland, Slovakia, and Baltic States.
US president Donald Trump made headlines with his Warsaw visit and comments on NATO, Russia, and the world situation. But the purported reason for his Polish stopover was mainly economic, highlighting the benefits that deliveries of US natural gas to countries in Central and South-East Europe. The Czech Republic was part of the Warsaw get together and will have taken notes of Trump’s main points.
The Speaker of the lower house of Parliament Jan Hamáček will represent the Czech Republic at next week’s meeting in Warsaw between US President Donald Trump and counties of Central and Eastern Europe, Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronová announced on Saturday. The aim of Trump’s visit is to promote U.S. natural gas exports in a region heavily reliant on Russian crude oil supplies. The Trump administration sees growth in LNG exports as a way to reduce trade deficits with other nations and expand the economy.
At least one person died after a fire broke out a gas storage warehouse in Plané, in the western district of Tachov on Friday. Explosions were reported at the site as the fire spread. Three people received medical treatment and locals were evacuated from the surrounding area. News site Mladá fronta Dnes reported that there more than 500 full industrial gas canisters were stored at the facility.
A regional court in Brno has confirmed a 40 million crown fine on energy company RWE for abuse of its dominant position. The case goes back 10 years when a fine was imposed on the German-based company by the Czech competition office for giving preferential terms to its gas distribution companies. The fine was later cut by the office from the original 240 million crowns. RWE can still launch a last ditch appeal at the Supreme Administrative Court.
Czechs could be forgiven for being confused about how to get the best price for natural gas since the market was flooded with offers from dozens of traders and sellers since it opened up over the last decade. The national energy regulator has now stepped in with a helping hand after its probe uncovered huge price variations.
The Czech government has tasked the Ministry of Environment with preparing a new law to cut the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, including oil, coal, and natural gas. The move was agreed on condition that steps will not undermine economic competitiveness. Environment groups have long been pressing for the step saying that it is needed to meet European climate change goals by 2050 but arguments had continued within the government whether just a broad concept or law would be required. Use of fossil fuels is already set to decline under an already agreed energy framework with such fuels set to cover just over half of the country’s energy needs by 2040.