Germany has declared an alarm because of the situation in the gas supply. Why in wartime, including in an economic war, announce the alarm? In order for people to know about the impending threat and have time to prepare for it.
That is why the German government introduced on the morning of June 23 second stage of the emergency plan in case of an emergency in the gas sector. The first, warning about the possibility of a sharp deterioration, has been in effect since the end of March.
Reducing supplies via Nord Stream forced to act
Berlin hopes very much that it will be possible to avoid the last, third stage – the onset of an emergency. After all, then the state would have to rigidly ration gas that has become extremely scarce, forcibly turning off its supply to industrial enterprises and thereby pushing the country into recession, into a crisis.
To prevent this from happening, we must act now, while the situation, as Robert Habeck put it, is tense, but the gas supply is secured. Explaining the reasons for declaring the alarm at a 50-minute press conference broadcast live by German news channels, the German Minister of Economy and Climate Protection urged the German public not to flatter themselves about “deceptive calm.”
Yes, at the moment it is summer, the market is functioning, gas injection into gas storage facilities has slowed down somewhat, but it continues, the UGS filling level is already approaching 60%. At the same time, Gazprom contrived technical suggestion, as the minister put it, has been using Germany’s main supply route, the Nord Stream, for more than a week at only 40% of its capacity, and in mid-July will stop this gas pipeline altogether for ten days to carry out scheduled preventive maintenance. It is not clear whether supplies will resume after this and to what extent.
Political signal to the people of Germany and EU allies
That’s why the announcement of the alarm was needed. First of all, this is a political signal. It is designed to mobilize all of Germany to save gas everywhere in order to enter the winter heating season with gas storages filled to the maximum.
This is necessary in order to protect not only ourselves, but also our neighbors and EU partners from a shortage of blue fuel. Robert Habek emphasized the European dimension of the measures taken. The minister, who also holds the post of vice-chancellor, made it clear that Germany, which has the largest underground gas storage capacity in the entire European Union, will be ready to coming winter share your stock.
Here, he explained, the point is not only in solidarity with the allies, but also in elementary interdependence. Indeed, while Germany does not have its own terminals for receiving liquefied gas (two are due to enter service this winter, two more – in the spring of 2023), it receives it from LNG terminals in the Netherlands, Belgium, France.
Powerful momentum for nationwide energy savings campaign
The German Ministry of Economics announced at the beginning of June nationwide energy saving campaign and especially gas, developed a website with many useful tips for the population and set a personal example by turning off the evening lighting of the facade of her building in Berlin. It can be assumed that the fact of the announcement of the alert will give this campaign a powerful impetus.
Especially since willingness of residents and businessmen of Germany to save energy quite high. They are motivated by extremely high fuel and electricity prices, a strong opposition to Putin’s war against Ukraine, and concern for a global climate plagued by the burning of fossil fuels.
Berlin received additional powers to regulate the market
However, the proclamation of the second stage of the emergency plan has another purpose. This administrative step provides the government with a legal basis for taking various measures to regulate the gas market. Thus, it now has a legitimate right to allow energy companies that are forced to buy additional volumes received from Russia on a very expensive spot market to urgently raise prices for customers even in existing contracts, so as not to work at a loss and not be on the verge of bankruptcy.
So far, the government emphasizes that it will not use this right, but its toolkit in the event of an aggravation of the gas shortage and a further increase in gas prices has expanded significantly.
At the same time, Berlin’s announcement of an energy alarm means a new decisive step towards the accelerated overcoming of dependence on Russia. In other words: Moscow has ensured that the whole of Germany is now mobilized with the aim of finally knocking gas weapons out of the hands of the Kremlin and depriving them of gas weapons as quickly as possible. “Gazprom” its largest export market.
Author: Andrey Gurkov, economic observer Deutsche Welle
The comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editorial board and Deutsche Welle generally.