The Swiss government has detailed plans to deal with a potential shortage of natural gas supplies in winter, with rationing measures a possibility if other steps were insufficient.

In March, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Switzerland’s government made the decision to set up a gas reserve for the 2022/23 winter season. An update to the implementation of the reserve was announced on Wednesday.

The government has said that five regional gas utilities have secured almost 3.8 terawatt hours of physical gas reserves in neighbouring countries, which represents approximately 60% of the set target, with further options being considered, Swiss Info reports.

In addition, another six terawatts of non-Russian gas – making up around 20% of the country’s requirements over winter – will be bought from France, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands, the government went on to say.

Authorities have previously said that Switzerland is completely reliant on imported gas and receives under 50% of its supplies from Russia, directly or indirectly. Around 75% of the country’s imports come from Germany.

That said, the country has comparatively low gas demand, making up just 15% of total energy consumption. The report goes on to add that 42% is used to heat homes, whilst the remainder is utilised in industry, service and transport sectors, as per government data.

Should there be a shortage, households and businesses will first be urged to scale back their usage, as well as dual-fuel power plants. Switzerland’s Economics Minister, Guy Parmelin has pressed industry to make use of “all possibilities to reduce gas usage”.

If these measures prove inadequate, the government could implement broader rationing. Priority for obtaining supplies would be allocated to households connected to a natural gas network as well as social services outside education and public administration.

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