Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has declared the second stage of the crisis in the gas emergency plan. The reasons for this are the cuts in Russian gas supplies that have been in place since mid-June and the high prices on the gas market. Overall, the plan, which is intended to secure Germany’s gas supply and, if necessary, distribute the resources, contains three stages.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) proclaimed this level on Thursday. This happens when gas flows are absent for a longer period of time “at important feed points” or the storage levels are permanently low.

This has now happened: the reason for this is the cut in Russian gas supplies that has been in place since mid-June and the high prices on the gas market, said Habeck in Berlin. The situation is currently “tense”, but security of supply is guaranteed.

But what does that mean in concrete terms?

Habeck shows that a “structural shortage” (i.e. a supply that is no longer guaranteed) “is still a long way off”. This threatens above all if no more gas flows through the NordStream 1 pipeline.

According to Habeck, the ministry made “15 billion euros available for gas purchases” in order to fill the gas storage tanks, especially for the winter.

After the alert level comes the emergency level. This would indicate a “significant disruption” to the gas supply. “Massive long-term supply failures” would meet the lack of “possibility of an alternative supply”. The federal government itself would announce such a stage by ordinance.

The state would have to intervene to ensure the gas supply of “protected customers” in particular – these are private households, but also hospitals, fire brigades and the police. This would have to be implemented by the Federal Network Agency, which would then act as a distributor – it decides who gets energy and who doesn’t.

According to the ministry, the early warning level means that a crisis team will meet at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, consisting of authorities and energy suppliers. The gas suppliers and the operators of the gas pipelines are obliged to regularly assess the situation for the federal government. The state has not yet intervened.

Gas traders and suppliers, transmission and distribution system operators take “market-based” measures to maintain the gas supply: According to the ministry, these include using flexibilities on the procurement side, resorting to gas storage and optimizing load flows.

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