Portugal is totally opposed to an EU proposal for member states to cut gas usage until March because it would hamper electricity production through gas-fired plants when the country faces an extreme drought, Energy Secretary Joao Galamba said on July 21.

The EU told member states on July 20 to cut gas usage by 15% until March as an emergency step after President Vladimir Putin warned that Russian supplies sent via the biggest pipeline to Europe could be reduced further and might even stop.

Galamba told newspaper Expresso that the EU proposal did not address the specific hydropower needs of Spain and Portugal, which due to the current drought were forced to produce more electricity through gas-fires plants.

“Portugal is totally against the European Commission’s proposal, because it does not take into account the differences between countries. This cannot apply to Portugal,” he said.

Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro said “rejecting the proposal is not a lack of solidarity” because Iberia, which does not depend on gas piped from Russia, remains an energy island “with little energy interconnection with the rest of Europe.”

“Cutting gas in Portugal would not immediately make gas available to any other country, as in northern Europe,” he told reporters.

He said that, due to severe drought, dams in Portugal were generating about 50% of the electricity produced last year, forcing utilities to use more the gas-fired plants.

“We are talking to the EU but the proposal as it stands is not acceptable to Portugal,” Cordeiro said, adding “Portugal is not alone in this debate with the EU, it shares the same perspective with other countries, namely Spain.”

At the end of June, before the recent heat wave, mainland Portugal already had 96% of its territory in severe or extreme drought, according to national meteorology institute IPMA.

The Commission proposal would enable Brussels to make the target mandatory in a supply emergency, if the EU declared a substantial risk of severe gas shortages.