Preparations for lack of gas: The emergency plans are optimized
Is Germany heading for a so-called gas shortage? The Federal Network Agency sees no reason to announce the next warning level. However, the network agency and industry are working on emergency plans on how gas consumption can be reduced.
In Germany, because of the tense situation on the gas market the first of three warning levels. A “gas crisis team” is working on being able to react to further delivery restrictions or failures. For some – like the Bavarian Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger – the measures do not go far enough. Aiwanger demands that the Federal Network Agency must intervene in the market now, i.e. phase three of the emergency plan should come into force immediately. But the President of the authority, Klaus Müller, does not want to go that far.
“I strongly advocate checking carefully when the right time for the highest alert level is, because that would unleash market forces,” said Müller in an interview with the Bavarian Radio. Therefore, “nothing pushes me to do it”. According to Müller, there are three categories for good reasons. If the third and highest alert level demanded by Aiwanger were to be declared immediately, it would be a “hard decision”. And that would have “impacts on jobs, value chains and industrial plants”. Therefore, he rather promotes the use of “milder measures” for the time being.
“As of today we have a problem”
Nevertheless, the situation is serious, said Müller, with a view to the ongoing problems with gas imports. He expressed doubts that the current supply of gas would ensure supply in winter: “As of today, we have a problem.” The 60 percent reduction in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is dramatic, he said on the sidelines of a trade fair in Essen. He does not know what the status will be after the maintenance announced by Gazprom. Müller called on consumers to save energy. Industry can also make a major contribution.
Measures to reduce gas consumption
According to the Federal Network Agency, it is working together with the industry to develop short-term emergency measures for a so-called gas shortage. According to a paper by the authority, there is already a toolbox that can help to reduce industrial gas consumption. These instruments now need to be supplemented. “The Federal Network Agency is in close contact with industry and the energy sector.”
Amounts saved should be used to stabilize the networks. Offers to provide gas quantities could be placed via platforms of the gas trader Trading Hub Europe (THE). The cheapest offers would then be accepted, as in an auction. “It is up to the industrial customers to create the necessary contractual conditions and to prepare the submission of bids (…).” Legislative changes are not necessary. Implementation is possible this summer.
Germany is heavily dependent on gas supplies from Russia. Several EU countries – including Germany – recently recorded lower deliveries from Russia. Economics Minister Robert Habeck accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of increasingly using gas supplies as an economic weapon after the attack on Ukraine.
If gas supplies were to be abruptly cut off, a severe recession would loom, because many industrial processes would not function without sufficient amounts of gas. Habeck currently believes that security of supply is guaranteed.