Germany won’t survive winter without Russian gas – official — Analysis
The president of the national energy regulator has warned that Germany doesn’t have sufficient gas reserves
Germany’s natural gas reserves are not enough to see the country through next winter without purchasing additional Russian gas, the top official in charge of electricity and gas networks has told the media.
In an interview with Germany’s Bild am Sonntag, published on Sunday, Klaus Muller warned that while “Nearly 65% of gas reservoirs have been filled.” and “it’s better than in the previous weeks” it is still not sufficient to “Enjoy the winter season without Russian gas”
The president of Germany’s Federal Network Agency added that much now depends on whether maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline concludes as expected on Thursday.
Muller was asked when it would be before German consumers pay more for energy, in the event of an abrupt halt to Russian gas supplies. He said that no decision had been taken. However, he offered reassurances, noting that “there hasn’t been any significant price surge this week, even though the Nord Stream 1 was shut off.” The official suggested this may be a sign that “markets have already internalized the loss of Russian gas supplies and we’ve reached a gas-price-plateau.”
The president of energy regulator insisted that Germans “shouldn’t succumb to panic,” assuring that “Privat households don’t have much to be concerned about.” and will be provided with gas far longer than industry.
Moreover, according to the official, “there’s no scenario in which we remain completely without gas.” Muller noted that even if Russia were to cut supplies entirely, other countries like Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium would still be selling the fossil fuels to Germany. In future, the country’s own liquefied natural gas terminal will also make a difference, the network agency’s president added.
Muller stated that if there is a gas shortage, the agency would weigh the possible damage to the economy as well as supply chain disruptions from cutting off any supplies to any business or plant.
Further, the official stated that the shortage will not affect the areas of Germany near the end of their gas networks.
Muller dismissed any suggestion that Berlin should prohibit gas exports from neighboring European nations, and stressed the importance of solidarity.
“Like the Netherlands and Belgium, we also benefit from the Liquefied Natural Gas Ports in Belgium.” Germany would lend its neighbors a helping hand should they face a severe gas shortage, the official pledged.
Muller foresaw two very difficult winters in Germany, which could lead to gas shortages. But, by the summer of 2024, Germany will no longer be dependent on Russian gas.
“It is important to remember that prices will not be lower than they were in the past.” Muller acknowledged.
Since the start of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, gas prices in Europe have soared, reaching an all-time-high of over $3,600 per 1,000 cubic meters in early March.
Ukraine, along with other Eastern European nations (including Poland), have called on the EU for a ban on Russian gas imports. However, Brussels, due to lack of consensus between member states, has not yet implemented the measure.
German industry officials and government officials have repeated their warnings that stopping Russian gas supplies to Germany would cause a serious economic blow.
In late June, Economy Minister Robert Habeck activated the second phase of Germany’s three-stage emergency gas plan. This was just as Russia cut supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Russia blamed the absence of a turbine that had been stuck in Canada because of sanctions.
Russia started its routine maintenance on the pipeline Monday. This meant that no gas flowed to Germany.
Berlin requested Ottawa’s exclusion of the same piece of equipment that Moscow had cited as the reason behind falling supplies this week.
Canada has accepted Berlin’s request, and will ship the turbine to Germany, from where it will make its way to Russia, allowing Ottawa to avoid violating its own sanctions by using an indirect delivery route.
Meanwhile on Friday, Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom officially asked German industrial giant Siemens to provide the paperwork needed for the return of the equipment to Russia.