Germany activates second phase of its emergency plan in case of gas shortage after supply cuts from Russia

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German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Hebeck during a press conference in Berlin.Christian Demand (Reuters)

Germany is preparing for possible gas rationing if deliveries from Russia are completely disrupted and in anticipation of not being able to fill the tanks before the fall. The German government this Thursday raised the alarm level to a second phase after a recent cut in gas supply, which reduced the amount of hydrocarbons coming through the main gas pipeline by just a third which is still operational, Nord Stream 1.

This second tier is activated when the government sees a high risk of insufficient gas supply over the long term and allows companies, for example, to raise prices to users to reduce demand. However, German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Hebeck assured that the clause would not be activated for the time being. “Even though we haven’t noticed it yet, we are facing a gas crisis,” he told a news conference in Berlin on Thursday. “Gas is now on the verge of a rarity,” he declared.

Given the reduction in gas flow from its main supplier Russia, the major European economy was In Phase 1 of your emergency plan from late March, “We must not make a fool of ourselves. The gas supply cuts are an economic attack by Putin against us,” he told a news conference in Berlin on Thursday. Hebeck reiterated that supplies were guaranteed and asked the Germans to save energy to the best of their ability. This is not the first time the minister reminded that “every kilowatt hour counts”; He did the same thing a few days ago by presenting a federal campaign that invites savings and offers practical advice for implementing it at home, such as timing the rain or lowering the water temperature.

The German executive announced this Sunday that it would have to reactivate its old coal plants, fuel that it promised to release before 2030, Faced with the risk of a shortfall in energy supply due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A tripartite government led by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz put forward a series of measures to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity and supply industry. The priority now is to accelerate the filling of gas tanks to reach nearly 100% capacity by autumn.

This step comes a few days later Russia will cut gas flow to Germany by two-thirds citing technical difficulties. A decision that Habeck described as “political” and attributed to Moscow’s desire to raise the price of hydrocarbons as a pressure measure.

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Under the second phase plan, Berlin will provide a €15 billion line of credit to fill gas storage facilities. In addition, a gas auction model will be launched this summer to encourage industrial gas consumers to save. Industrial customers who can do without hydrocarbons and reduce their consumption will have incentives that will be financed through the market. The gas they don’t use will go into storage.

The Ministry of Economy and Climate has deployed since March, when it activated the early warning level, a crisis team that continuously analyzes and evaluates the supply situation. This working group can cut off some consumers from the network, if necessary, that is, to order, for example, some companies have the right to stop their production to avoid gas consumption and give priority to households. This situation would only be reached in the third phase of the National Emergency Plan, which stipulates that large industrial customers will receive gas in small quantities, or no delivery if rationing is necessary.

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