French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned today that there is a strong possibility that Moscow will completely stop 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 the event of a supply disruption.

“We also have to prepare load shedding plans, we are doing it,” he told reporters later. “It means looking very specifically at each company, at each area of ​​employment; which are the companies that should reduce their energy consumption and which are the ones that should not”.

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

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

The French government has proposed a series of measures to manage the potential gas supply disruption, including 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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