Russia is playing with the gas tap and in Germany consumers and industry are worried about how they will get through the winter. We ask the ten most important questions about gas supply and provide answers. Result: Electricity will continue, but once the current heat wave is over, things could get uncomfortable.
Apparently yes. After the end of maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which was described by all sides as routine, but was anything but routine given the war and the importance of gas supplies, the gas is apparently said to be flowing again. In any case, the state-owned company Gazprom has announced deliveries. However, even before the maintenance, the pipeline was only running at 40 percent of its technically feasible capacity, which led to the gas contingency plan being put on alert in Germany. How much gas will actually arrive in the next few days remains uncertain. The whole of Europe, which covered 40 percent of its needs with natural gas from Russia last year, is currently only getting small amounts via the Ukraine route and pipelines in Turkey.
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The Russian state-owned company Gazprom justified the throttling of deliveries by Nord Stream 1 last month by saying that a turbine belonging to the German energy technology group Siemens Energy had to be repaired. Siemens Energy confirmed the repair, since then everyone has been cheated: the turbine was serviced in Canada and could not be returned due to the sanctions, according to Siemens Energy. But then suddenly it worked. But the return journey of the turbine, for which a transport plane takes about eight hours, is now apparently dragging on. Gazprom writes on its Telegram channel that there are no documents for the turbine, which is not clear, after all it is only about reinstalling the serviced part. Experts are puzzled as to how a single turbine can paralyze an entire pipeline. It becomes clear that no side is playing with open cards.
The Russian ruler Vladimir Putin has recently pointed out that Nord Stream 2 is a functioning pipeline that is already filled with gas: “We still have a finished route. We can put that into operation,” he said. But the already controversial commissioning of the second Baltic Sea pipeline was suspended after the Russian attack on Ukraine as one of the first sanctions. Politically, it is absolutely unlikely that the government in Berlin will move away from this decision, which has received worldwide attention. She would have to fear considerable disputes with her allies, especially in Poland and the USA.
Absolutely unsafe. Depending on their mood, the Russian leadership may decide to halt gas supplies, severely hitting countries like Germany that support wartime foes Ukraine. The only disadvantage from the Russian point of view would be the lack of payments from the buyer countries in the West. The regime needs the money to finance its war and has come under economic pressure from the sanctions. On the other hand, the Russian state is getting its money’s worth because gas prices have risen and the sales channels to Turkey and India continue to function well.
All important developments and voices on the war: PUSH – Political developments and voices on the war – Starting tomorrow, gas will come from Russia again – it remains unclear how much
Secure. The power grids are currently being stabilized by coal-fired power plants, which have also been ramped up. Renewable energies provide 40 to 50 percent of the electricity requirement, electricity can be imported and the remaining nuclear power plants will run at least until the end of the year. An extension is being discussed. Gas contributes only a small part to electricity generation, so the damage from a lack of gas is small here.
Not sure at all. So far, renewable energies account for only 17 percent of the total energy consumption in Germany. The rest comes from fossil fuels – and this is where gas is key. It is used to generate heat in industry and in many private households. A changeover takes years. Hydrogen that could use the same networks is not available. Liquid gas from the USA and the Arab states could help, but will not arrive in sufficient quantities in Germany in the next few months. The gas storage facilities in Germany are moderately full, these days when no gas is coming from Russia, about as much flows out of them as is newly stored. As it gets colder, gas consumption increases three to fourfold. Then it will be tight.
They will get hefty bills from their gas company, who is itself in need. A family of four can expect up to 4,000 euros in back payments for gas consumption. If only to save money, people will save gas and switch to other heating systems, which are currently difficult to obtain due to the high demand. According to the energy laws, private households should be supplied with gas until the end. However, the industry demands a fairer distribution of the burden when gas runs out. That could mean that gas for private consumers will end up being rationed after all.
Gas is used as an energy supplier for the manufacture of many products that you don’t even see: from fertilizers to water bottles. Most of the gas is consumed by the chemical industry, which uses it to produce raw materials for other sectors, so that if gas supplies fail, production in a wide variety of companies is likely to be paralyzed quickly. The consequences can be bankruptcies, short-time work and an economic downturn unprecedented in the history of the Federal Republic.
Investors are pessimistic. The stock market has been tumbling for months. In addition to the energy shortage, there is also high inflation, delivery problems and a shortage of workers – all situations that play a role on the markets as a result of the corona pandemic. Energy-intensive companies are under particular pressure. The shares of the chemical giant BASF, for example, have fallen by a third in the past six months. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange reacts extremely sensitively: when the first gas flowed through the pipeline again after maintenance, the prices jumped up. When Gazprom dampened expectations, they promptly fell.
The energy transition that Germany has been promoting for 20 years has failed because it has made Germany extremely dependent on Russian gas. Other countries in Western Europe are in a much more stable position. Nevertheless, efforts to increase the use of renewable energies are given an additional boost because it has become clear that Germany, with its limited raw materials, has no other choice not only because of climate change, but also for economic and geopolitical reasons way exists.
The article “Putin’s poker over Nord Stream: 10 answers as to how gas will continue in Germany” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.