Berlin, Jul 17 (EFE).- Germany is filling up its gas deposits, diversifying its supply, resorting to coal plants and urging the population to save fuel as the war in Ukraine exposed its dependence on Russian gas and its vulnerability to an energy crisis looming on the horizon.
Winter is coming, and so are the uncertainties it entails.
The Nord Stream pipeline that pumps Russian gas into Germany is undergoing maintenance work that is due to be completed by July 21 pending the delivery of a turbine from Canada.
Before the repairs began, the Nord Stream flow had already dropped by 60%. There are fears in Germany — and beyond — that Russia will choose to make the cut-off permanent.
Germany has, since June 23, been in a state of alert due to the drop in Russian gas supplies and burgeoning energy prices.
As of last Monday, when work on the pipeline began, the German government insisted the gas flow was guaranteed and did not intend to declare the maximum state of emergency, which would allow the state to intervene in the market to regulate supplies.
Climate and economy minister Robert Habeck on Tuesday broached the possible rationing of gas, which would be applied to industry before consumers.
A permanent or long-term interruption would have “massive consequences,” he warned, urging citizens to pay attention to their energy use.
During his traditional summer interview with ARD, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, also warned that many people would struggle to afford a rise in energy prices.
The German government has looked to offset the crisis with a series of measures including a 9-euro monthly rail pass and a tax reduction on hydrocarbons, but the policies only had a light impact on June’s 7.6% inflation levels.
Germany’s Federal Network Agency, which regulates the energy market, warned that heating costs could triple in 2023 due to rising gas prices, prompting consumer organizations and some politicians to call for a third package of financial aid to help struggling members of society.
On Friday, a 5 billion-euro energy cost package came into effect for companies especially hard-hit by the fallout of Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
Authorities are also working to fill up gas storage units to hit 90% capacity by November 1, up from the current 65%, ahead of the winter season.
These efforts have been hampered by the Nord Stream stoppage, which dropped national gas supplies.EFE