After Russia cuts supplies, the economy minister says the situation is serious and starts phase 2 of the emergency plan. “Natural gas has become a scarce commodity,” he said, warning of further price hikes. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Thursday (23/06) that the country is at “alert level” and will enter phase 2 of a total of three of the national emergency plan for natural gas supply. . The strategy was created after the escalation of disputes with Russia, resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We are in a gas crisis,” Habeck said. “Natural gas has become a rare commodity. Prices are already high and we need to prepare for further increases,” he warned.
“Even if gas supplies can still be taken from the markets and stored, the situation is serious and winter will come,” said the minister. In Germany, gas is widely used for heating homes.
“It was the failures of the last decade that put us in these difficulties,” Habeck added, criticizing the previous administration for failing to recognize the need to reduce Germany’s dependence on energy sources imported from Russia.
The minister stressed that the priority is to replenish the country’s stocks and that the government is looking for new suppliers, in addition to the development of renewable energy sources.
the emergency plan
The German government’s plan to deal with the gas crisis involves three stages: initial alert level, alert level and emergency level.
Phase 1, declared by Habeck at the end of March, means that there are “concrete, serious and credible indications” that an event could occur that risks leading to a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation.
Phase 2, which the country has just entered, means that there is a sharp deterioration in the supply of natural gas, but still in conditions in which the market is able to adapt, without the need for state intervention.
In this second phase, suppliers are theoretically allowed to raise consumer prices to decrease demand in an attempt to avoid a sustained low in inventories. The increases, however, require approval from the Federal Energy Agency, which acts as the regulatory body for natural gas and electricity.
The announcement of phase 2 was made necessary by the government’s plans to intensify the use of energy produced from coal, which is much more polluting than natural gas.
The move came just days after Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom cut gas shipments to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 40%, in what Germany sees as retaliation for Western sanctions on Moscow for the war. in Ukraine.
Phase 3 of the German emergency plan provides for state intervention to ensure the supply of so-called protected consumers, such as private homes, hospitals, a health center or assistance center for people with disabilities, as well as police, brigade barracks of the fire and structures of the Armed Forces. Navy
Germany is racing against time to try to reduce its dependence on Russia, but some experts believe it is only a matter of time before Moscow completely excludes the country from its energy exports.
rc / lf (Reuters, AFP, DPA, ots)