European Union leaders met on Friday to discuss how the union can become independent from Russian gas. Before imposing more energy sanctions, Putin himself curtailed exports to 12 countries in the European Union.
The European Union decided to renew gas reserves to 80 percent before the winter season, but now the situation is characterized by panic:
– A spokesman said before the EU meeting on Friday that it is only a matter of time before the Russians cut off all gas supplies Reuters news agency.
– Then there will be a breakdown
Germany fears a lack of energy will shut down parts of the industry for the winter.
According to a draft meeting reported by Reuters, the war in Ukraine is responsible for high inflation and stagnant growth. Friday is exactly four months since the war began.
Read also: Chaos and fear in the electricity market – now fixed price opportunities disappear
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said that his country will run out of gas if Russia’s supplies remain as low as they are now. He warns that this could lead to industrial shutdowns due to winter:
“Then companies will have to stop production and lay off employees, supply chains will collapse and people will fall into debt to pay their heating bills,” the minister told the reputable magazine Der Spiegel.
Habeck claims that creating division in Germany is part of Putin’s strategy.
Putin can prevent gas
Marie Lindberg, a senior researcher at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, has followed German climate policy closely for many years. Habeck explains that Russia’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which supplies virtually all the gas that Germany imports from Russia, is central to Habeck’s interest:
– The Russians will shut down the gas pipeline for planned maintenance this summer. Habeck is afraid that they will shut off the gas tube completely after that. The researcher says that the capacity of this gas pipeline has now shrunk by 60 percent.
According to Lindberg, about half of Russian gas goes directly to heating homes and offices, while a third goes to industry. This explains the dual interest of business and families.
The Independent: — The Germans launched the second level of their gas emergency plan on Thursday. It is an alarm level that does not mean rationing yet, but there are serious disruptions in the delivery or on the consumption side.
Read also: EU summit on Russian barriers to grain exports: A real war crime
Twelve weeks later, at the end of September, warming will begin. Lindbergh notes that the largest share of Russian gas goes to heating offices and private homes:
– At the moment there is no crisis, but as soon as the need begins and central heating begins in apartment buildings – this is closed for the summer.
Accident in Texas hurts worse
This spring, the European Union decided to secure 80 percent gas storage before the autumn season. This doesn’t quite go according to plan:
– They are not in a good position to manage this, and rely on refilling to reach minimum requirements. They won’t be able to do this if Russia cuts off Nord Stream completely, says the Norwegian researcher.
Read also: Banks sound the alarm: – Rising inflation and higher interest rates affect the psychology of 700,000 Norwegians
Germany is building new LNG terminals to be able to receive more gas from ships. To replace Russian gas, the European Union and the Germans need large quantities of ship-borne gas (This is called LNG, editor’s note). Among the countries that could contribute are Qatar and the United States. But even with this, the Germans were not particularly lucky:
– They bought freckle gas from the United States. But an accident in Texas means the Germans are not allowed to deliver part of what they ordered from the United States, says Lindberg.
High bill for consumers
Since gas largely goes for heating, prices are expected to rise significantly due to gas shortages this fall:
The Germans are very concerned about the price hike. Only now will the increase in prices pass on to consumers. It also doesn’t look good for some suppliers, who are in trouble because they have committed to lower prices for what they have to buy for, says Lindberg.
Consumers can double or triple their energy bills, which are already between 30 and 80 percent higher than last fall, according to a statement from Klaus Müller, head of Germany’s grid regulator, Bundesnetzagentur, to media house ARD on Friday.
It will undermine democracy
Politically speaking, there has been debate about whether politicians could do more to prevent this situation. Shutting down nuclear power plants is more controversial in Germany now than it was before the Ukraine war, but nuclear power cannot be used in gas-fired central heating plants, points out Marie Lindberg.
The green turn was important to the Germans, but now that they lacked energy, it had some consequences that climate-conscious politicians might have lacked:
– Now they also burn more coal energy. They argue that they put themselves in a very vulnerable position because they had not built these LNG plants before, but instead built Nord Stream 2 in addition, they are behind in developing renewables in the heating sector, says the researcher.
Habek, for his part, is not only concerned about the economy. He thinks Putin’s gas pull could be a threat to democracy itself:
“This creates an ideal breeding ground for a kind of populism that may be intent on undermining our liberal democracy from within,” Habeck told Der Spiegel magazine.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”