If the natural gas supply does not resume within 48 hours, the emergency crisis team will recommend to the Slovak government to reactivate the second unit of the V1 nuclear power plant in Jaslovské Bohunice.
"If supplies are not resumed and the discipline of large customers does not improve, we will ask the government to consider restarting the V1," said Economy Minister Lubomír Jahnátek after a meeting of his crisis team as quoted by news wire SITA.
The minister explained that reactivating the second V1 unit may be necessary to stabilize the electricity transmission network which might collapse due to suspended natural gas shipments from Russia to Slovakia.
Slovakia shut down the second unit of V1 on the last day of 2008 in accord with the EU accession agreement.
Jahnátek said that seven days are needed for restarting the second unit of the V1 nuclear power plant.
He said that not all industrial customers are observing the limiting consumption stage number 8 regulation.
"Unfortunately, we did not manage to reduce consumption as much as we had expected," he said. “Large industrial consumers should have reduced daily consumption by 4.3 million cubic meters of gas but only 1.3 million cubic meters of gas were saved on Wednesday, January 7. This is a bad scenario. That is why I call on all customers who are subject to limiting regulation stage 8 to obey the government's directive."
Jahnátek warned that if the usage of industrial customers did not change, the system would collapse and gas supplies for households, schools and hospitals would be in danger. If large customers saved at least 2 million cubic meters of gas daily, existing gas reserves would be sufficient for ten days. After ten days, the system would collapse.
"According to a simulation we conducted, I can assure that SPP can supply gas to our customers for the next ten days. Of course, this is only if industrial customers will follow the limiting regime," said Bernd Wagner, chairman of the board of SPP, Slovakia's gas utility.
Slovak Energy Inspection (SEI) will monitor how large companies are observing the stage number 8 regulation. Beginning January 9, information should be available on which companies are not complying and on the basis of this information the government has a right to impose sanctions. The minister warned that if industrial customers do not improve their discipline in reducing consumption of natural gas, limiting regulation stage number 9 will be announced. This 9th degree stage makes it possible to disconnect a customer from the gas distribution system.
PM Fico stated that a monitoring committee of representatives of companies that buy gas from Russia was set up at the EU level. The Slovak PM hopes that when this monitoring committee starts working, gas supplies from Russia will be restarted. Jahnátek expects the expert monitoring committee to start its work to renew the gas supplies on Sunday or Monday, according to SITA.