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France’s Le Maire: Total Russian gas cutoff is ‘most likely’ scenario

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France — French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire today warned there is a strong chance that Moscow will totally halt gas supplies to Europe.

“Let’s prepare for a total cut-off of Russian gas; Today that is the most likely option,” Le Maire told the Rencontres Economiques, an economy-focused event in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.

The minister said the French government was working to identify companies that should get priority protection in case of supply disruption.

“You also have to prepare load-shedding plans, we are doing it,” he told reporters later. “It means looking in a very specific way at each company, each employment area; Which are the companies that should reduce their energy consumption and which are the ones that cannot.”

Le Maire mentioned Saint-Gobain, a major construction materials producer, as an example of companies that should not be deprived of gas supply, even in case of emergency. He pointed to possible damage to production equipment and the risk of environmental consequences.

“We have to anticipate and to put ourselves in order of battle as of now,” he said.

The French government has proposed a series of measures to manage possible disruption of gas supplies, including giving itself the power to requisition gas-fired power plants as part of a broader legislative proposal on “purchasing power.” The bill will be debated in France’s National Assembly next week.

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