“Even if gas quantities can still be procured on the market and stored: The situation is serious and winter is coming,” says Habeck. Germany’s security of supply is currently guaranteed, but Russia’s most recent delivery restrictions in the “Nord Stream 1” pipeline would make the situation significantly more difficult. These are an “economic attack,” said Habeck again.
He also thinks it is possible that Russia will no longer deliver any gas after the pipeline maintenance interval. According to the RTL Nachtjournal, he answered the relevant question: “I would have to lie if I said I’m not afraid of it.” The argument of technical problems was put forward, it was a political measure from Moscow.
Triple gas price “cannot be ruled out”
“And who knows what the next political measure will be. Well, I’m not without worries,” says Harbeck. When asked whether he could imagine the gas bills trebling, Habeck said: “That cannot be ruled out (…) Yes, that is within the realm of possibility.” A price wave is coming to Germany that can no longer be averted be.
The German gas storage facilities are currently 58 percent full. If the gas storage tanks were completely full, Germany would get by for two and a half months without any deliveries from Russia. That said the head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, on ZDF. This applies to an average cold winter. As a result, Germany needs additional suppliers and must also save gas. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told ZDF that gas should no longer be used to generate electricity. It is needed for heating and certain industrial processes.
German business and environmental associations as well as economists shared the concerns. “With the alert being declared, it is now clear that the situation on the gas market is threatening. The throttling of flows from Russia will not immediately lead to a collapse of the gas supply in Germany. But we can no longer store enough gas – and we will feel that in winter. There is then a threat of rationing of gas procurement and thus production stops in industry. A severe recession could result. Consumers will also feel this,” economist Jens Südekum told Reuters.
“Everyone involved must be alarmed about the situation in the gas supply. The danger is real that we will run into an undersupply and thus into a rationing regime,” said the Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering. “The gas shortage endangers the supply of the population and necessary supply chains in the economy. The federal government must therefore take all measures to protect the employees and the necessary infrastructure for Germany’s energy supply,” said the Verdi union.
Warnings about the consequences of prolonged throttling
The Federal Network Agency also warned of a scenario in which Russia would continue to restrict gas supplies. “The gas flows from the ‘Nord Stream 1’ were throttled to about 40 percent of the maximum capacity. If Russian gas supplies via the ‘Nord Stream 1’ pipeline remain at this low level, a storage level of 90 percent by December can hardly be achieved without additional measures for example France, the Czech Republic and Austria are affected.
Austria remains at the early warning level
Austria itself is not currently planning any tightening, in this country the early warning level should continue to apply for the time being. The federal government decided this after consultations with the crisis team set up in the climate protection ministry responsible for energy. But Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) wrote in a statement: “The situation is being closely monitored and reassessed every hour.”
Criticism of handling the gas crisis
The federal government has been criticized for its handling of gas deliveries from Russia to Austria. There is also pressure in Germany. The second gas alert level was declared there on Thursday.
Gas delivery quantities and the storage structure are decisive. If the storage structure is at risk, “we must take action”. Russia is not a reliable counterpart. The memory level is 42.7 percent, and the supply is also guaranteed on Thursday.
E-Control also emphasized that gas flows to Germany are currently much more restricted than those to Austria. So much gas is still arriving in Austria that not only does daily consumption cover, but gas can also continue to be stored. Around 80 percent of the gas in this country is obtained from Russia.
Storage: EU target of 80 percent by November
Nevertheless, Germany’s decision is also a reminder for other EU countries. The EU Commission has called on the members to fill the storage tanks to 80 percent by November 1st. But that goal is being made significantly more difficult by Russia’s supply shortages on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and rising prices for gas from other sources. On Monday, the energy ministers are to meet and discuss possible measures. In any case, prepare for supply problems.
EU Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans said on Thursday that ten of the 27 EU countries had so far reported early warnings about gas supplies. “The risk of a serious disruption to the gas supply is more realistic than ever before.” At the same time, in view of Germany’s step, the EU Commission announced that the supply of Germany and that of the EU was currently secured. Reduced Russian deliveries could currently be compensated.
The International Energy Agency (IAE) warned on Tuesday that Russia could continue to keep supplies low for political reasons. “I would not rule out that Russia will find various problems here and there and thus further excuses to reduce or completely end gas supplies to Europe,” said IEA chief Fatih Birol. “For this reason, Europe needs contingency plans.”
Moscow denies political motive
However, Moscow again denied any political intention. “The Russian Federation is fulfilling all its obligations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax agency. Delays in repair work due to sanctions are the cause of the problem. According to Russian information, a Siemens turbine for the pipeline is stuck abroad. Pipeline maintenance is planned for mid-July. From Berlin’s point of view, it is currently not possible to say whether Russia will resume deliveries at least at the reduced level of 40 percent after the maintenance has been completed.