Czech energy czar

Industry Min. Jozef Síkela has been criticized for not being very visible in the media, but he compensated for it somewhat yesterday
by revealing incredibly good news to viewers of Czech TV who are worried about a shutdown of Russian natural gas: “Shutting off the
gas to households is not on the table at all,” he said. “Not to critical infrastructure either, or to hospitals, because we will always have
gas in the quantities we need. We already have alternative supplies.” He didn’t say whose gas he has already contracted, but he spoke in
early April about using Norwegian supplies through the Netra pipeline to cover 25-33% of Czech winter needs. That would still leave
non-critical industry to fend for itself. The Financial Times reported 10 days ago that many companies in Germany desperately want
to be considered “systemically relevant” and are hiring lawyers to advocate on their behalf. This same battle is playing out in the CR,
which is one reason Síkela has avoided the media. He has become a sort of energy czar, with the power to decide who survives and who
does not. “Critical infrastructure” can be a flexible concept.

FW220502

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