Robert Habeck in the Bundestag: "We have prepared for the situation"
Photo: ANNEGRET HILSE / REUTERS
Just one day after Russia imposed sanctions on Gazprom Germania and other former subsidiaries of its state-owned gas company, the measures are already having an impact.
According to Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, Moscow's sanctions against Western energy companies are also affecting Germany.
Some subsidiaries of Gazprom Germania would no longer be supplied with gas, said the Greens politician in the Bundestag.
But there are alternatives for delivery, he said – without first giving details.
"We have prepared for the situation," said Habeck.
The market can compensate for the gas failure from Russia.
The ministry will provide information about this later in the day.
The developments showed that energy could be used as a weapon, Habeck said.
The prerequisite for Germany to be secure in the future is the expansion of renewable energies, which the federal government is trying to achieve.
Take care of filling gas storage tanks
Gazprom Germania is under German state control after Russian energy giant Gazprom wanted to sell the company.
Among other things, the largest German gas storage facility also belongs to Gazprom Germania.
The storage facility is located in Rehden, Lower Saxony.
It accounts for around a fifth of German capacity.
Most recently, however, hardly any gas was stored in the Rehden storage facility.
In Germany there are 47 underground storage facilities at 33 locations operated by around 25 companies.
The energy group Uniper accounts for around a quarter of Germany's storage capacity.
Uniper said it was discussing the consequences of Russian sanctions against Gazprom Germania and other former subsidiaries.
"We are examining this in detail," said a company spokesman on Thursday.
In particular, the details of the ban on filling the gas storage facilities are unclear.
According to the Russian agency Interfax, stockpiling of Russian gas in Europe's storage facilities will be banned in the future.
It was initially unclear how such a ban would be enforced.
Gas storage compensates for fluctuations in gas consumption and thus forms a kind of buffer system for the gas market.
The storage tanks are usually well filled at the beginning of the heating period in autumn, and the levels then decrease by spring.
On cold winter days, up to 60 percent of gas consumption in Germany is covered by German storage facilities.
According to the new storage law, they should be 90 percent full by November 1st.
Last Monday, the storage tanks were almost 39 percent full – and the trend is rising.
The Russian government published an order on Wednesday stating that the Russian side was no longer allowed to do business with a total of 31 listed companies.
Accordingly, the trade bans come into force on behalf of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.
Gazprom Germania was placed under German state control in early April.
The company is the owner of other important companies in the German gas industry.
There are also failures when transiting through Ukraine
The delivery stops at Gazprom Germania are not the only irregularities in the poker game on the European gas market.
Transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to Europe has declined - though it's unclear if it's related to the sanctions.
There are some significant fluctuations in transit anyway.
According to the Ukrainian network operator OGTSU, the order volume for the transmission of Russian gas was only 53.2 million cubic meters on Thursday.
According to the current transit contract, a maximum of 110 million cubic meters of Russian gas can be pumped through Ukraine to Europe every day.
According to Russian information, the order volume on Tuesday was still 95.8 million cubic meters.
On Wednesday, the gas volume had fallen to 72 million cubic meters.
Now it has fallen again by more than a quarter.
In the past few weeks, however, comparable quantities have been routed through the Ukrainian pipeline system on several occasions.
Most recently, the transit volume was similarly low on April 24 at 53 million cubic meters.
On Wednesday night, Ukraine announced that it would partially stop the transit of Russian gas to Europe.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has now blamed Russia for cutting gas supplies to Western Europe.
"We didn't restrict deliveries, but Russia took possession of important infrastructure objects of the gas pipelines," Kuleba said on Thursday on ARD.
"Now we are not in a position to fully control this transfer."
Kuleba added that Ukraine, as a transit country, has been a reliable supplier of Russian gas for years.
"We're reliable," he emphasized.
The Russian Gazprom group announced on Wednesday that it would continue to deliver gas westwards via Ukraine, but less than before.
Previously, the Ukrainian grid operator GTSOU had announced that it could no longer operate a compressor station because of the war in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.
Therefore, the flow of gas through this route will be discontinued.
It was "force majeure," GTSOU had justified the failures.
The Russians promptly denied it.
The exact backgrounds for the failures are difficult to see through.
According to initial assessments, the consequences for Germany are manageable.
(Read more about this in this analysis.)
Habeck encourages – and admonishes
Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas.
Demands for a gas embargo, for example, are therefore controversial.
According to the latest information from the Economics Ministry, Germany's dependence on Russian gas has fallen from 55 percent to around 35 percent since the beginning of the war.
According to this, a gradual reduction to ten percent of gas consumption is possible by summer 2024.
Habeck believes it is possible that Germany could cope with a Russian gas boycott as early as next winter.
However, only under certain conditions – and if consumers help.
“If we have full storage at the turn of the year, if two of the four floating LNG tankers we rent are already connected to the grid and if we save significantly on energy, we can get through the winter to some extent if Russian gas supplies are cut off,” said Habeck of the "Wirtschaftswoche".
At the same time, the Green politician pleaded for saving energy.
"Less consumption is the be-all and end-all when it comes to gas." If it is possible to save ten percent over the next two years in industry and in private households, according to the minister, "then these are the decisive percentages in order not to end up in an emergency devices.
Everyone should take part.
More efficiency is a key lever against Putin,” he said.