Germany raises energy alert over Russian 'economic attack'

Mayor of the German coastal resort town of Lubmin Axel Vogt poses in front of an information point container decorated with a map showing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. (John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday, the German government formally declared war on its energy market in response to Russia's drastic cut in gas supply, ordering households to reduce use and warning that industrial output would be negatively impacted.

Germany's Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck announced stage two of the country's three-stage alert system, one step short of a complete emergency in which the government would take control of energy distribution and ration gas supply, and said it was time to get serious about the consequences of supply cuts caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We must not delude ourselves, cutting gas supplies is an economic attack on us by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," stated Habeck. Putin's objective is to create insecurity, push up prices, and split our community.

He urged German households to "make a difference" by altering their consumption patterns but refrained from allowing energy companies to pass through any price increases to homeowners.

"I know that sometimes this sounds trivial, but you always have to multiply this triviality by 41 million households," Habeck remarked.

Last week, Berlin reported a significant reduction in gas supply through the subsea Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. Italy and France have also reported declines in their customary imports of Russian gas via Germany, adding them to the growing list of European nations whose supplies have been reduced or halted outright.

Russia says that the Nord Stream reductions result from pipeline maintenance and has blamed Canadian contractors for the problems; however, Habeck and other European officials assert that the measures are a political tactic.

The pipeline will be shut down next month for maintenance, which also occurred in July last year.

Sunday, Habeck unveiled national contingency measures that include sourcing electricity from coal plants placed on standby — a "bitter" action, according to the Greens co-leader — and establishing a program to reward enterprises that conserve gas.

Russia's tightening of supply has made it more difficult for Germany and other EU nations to fill gas storage ahead of the winter heating season; the European Commission expects storage to be 80 percent full by November 1.

Thursday, Habeck's ministry said that national gas storage facilities are currently filled to 58 percent, which is higher than last year's; by December, the target is to reach 90 percent.

Habeck stated that filling the gas stockpile is now the primary priority. "All consumers, whether in industry, in public institutions or private households, should reduce their gas consumption as much as possible so that we can make it through the winter."

In addition, the German government has established a €15 billion credit line for non-Russian goods.

Publish : 2022-06-23 19:59:00

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