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PARIS: France is working on energy contingency plans because of cuts to gas flows from Russia which have hit the European market but it has not yet had to put them into action, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.

Le Maire said talks were already underway on the issue with French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, although details had still to be finalised.

Russia has reduced gas flows to a dozen European countries in response to unprecedented EU sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. “(…) We will determine which companies are of the most strategic importance, namely those for whom we can allow gas to be cut off and those for whom we cannot allow any cuts,” Le Maire told RMC Radio.

Last week European Union leaders agreed to boost preparations for further cuts in Russian gas, accusing Moscow of “weaponising” energy via a supply squeeze which Germany warned could partly shut its industry.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday also said that he backed calls by the heads of France’s top energy companies for individuals and businesses to limit power consumption immediately to prepare for a looming energy crisis.

“We need to work collectively to reduce our consumption in order to regain room to manoeuvre,” the chief executives of Engie, EDF and TotalEnergies said in an open letter published by weekly newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

France urges producers to cap oil price over Ukraine: Macron office

The letter signed by Engie’s Catherine MacGregor, EDF’s Jean-Bernard Levy and TotalEnergies’ Patrick Pouyanne cited sharp declines in Russian gas shipments as well as limited electricity generation because of maintenance issues.

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