The German Economy Minister said that the move reflected “a significant deterioration in the gas supply situation”.
Germany moved closer to gas deliveries as it raised the alert level in an emergency plan after Russia cut supplies to the country.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference on Thursday: “Gas is a scarce commodity in Germany.
Enabling a second “alarm” level in its action plan will bring Germany closer to a third and final stage that could see gas distribution in Europe’s top economy. .
“This development reflects a ‘significant deterioration of the gas supply situation,’” Habeck said.
Germany, like several other European countries, relies heavily on Russian energy imports to meet its needs.
Russian energy giant Gazprom last week supply decrease to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline is down 60% due to what the company says are delayed repairs. But Germany dismissed the technical justification for the move, calling it a “political decision” instead.
Habeck said that Russia used gas as a “weapon” against Germany in retaliation for the West’s support of Ukraine in the wake of Moscow’s invasion, with the aim of “destroying” European unity.
Dominic Kane of Al Jazeera, reporting from Berlin, says the impact on government decisions will vary between household consumers and industry.
“For motel owners, just because people live in rental properties doesn’t mean their gas supply is at stake right now,” said Kane.
“For consumers across industries, it’s even more critical because the government here is saying, ‘We believe the time has come for us to deliver potential gas’ and Note that in summer in Europe, residential gas users will not go. to heat their homes a lot, but the industrial sector will use and are using large amounts of gas year-round,” he added.
Gazprom has stopped delivering to some European countries, including PolandBulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands.
Habeck said gas supplies to Europe’s largest economy remained “safe” as they are, with energy companies still in a position to “manage” the crisis. The higher alert level will above all lead to increased monitoring of the supply situation but action is still needed to prepare for the coming winter.
“If we do nothing now, things will get worse,” Habeck said.
In April, Germany required gas storage facilities to be 90% full by early December to mitigate risks from supply cuts.
Currently, the country’s stores are at less than 60% full, higher than the average of previous years. However, the targets would be difficult to achieve if exports to other countries, hard to justify within Europe, were unrestricted.
If these return to levels before the most recent supply tightening, Germany could face severe gas shortages in February 2023, while further reductions in supply via the Nord Stream pipeline could make the situation even worse.
The German government expects supply to be shut down from July 11 to July 25 for pipeline maintenance.
If deliveries do not resume after the service period, Germany could face gas shortages as early as “mid-December”.