With Russian gas flows still running at significantly reduced rates due to the Ukraine war, European governments outlined new measures on Monday to deal with potential energy shortages this winter and sped its strategy to upgrade energy networks to share power.
Germany stated that it anticipated contract signings for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the United Arab Emirates. It is planning to build new LNG terminals to ship in gas as a result of the major Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Russia being shut down, while European partners Spain and France were also putting together backup plans.
“If everything goes well, savings in Germany are high and we have a bit of luck with the weather, we … have a chance at getting through the winter comfortably,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said after a tour of a future LNG terminal in Lubmin in northern Germany.
Habeck stated that Germany would not permit significant gas importers like VNG to go bankrupt, and a spokesperson for the economy ministry stated that “focused” discussions on aid were currently taking place with struggling importer Uniper.
Before its invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia supplied about 40% of the gas used in the European Union. According to Russia, it shut down the pipeline because Western sanctions made it difficult to operate. Politicians in Europe claim that is a ruse and charge Moscow with using energy as a weapon.
For the first time since the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was shut down three weeks ago, German buyers briefly reserved capacity on Monday to receive Russian gas through the line, which was once one of Europe’s major gas supply routes. But they soon stopped making the demands.
It wasn’t immediately clear why buyers had requested capacity when Russia had made no indication that the line would reopen any time soon after being shut down.
Despite being significantly reduced, Russian gas still travels through Ukraine to reach Europe.
However, due to the sharp decline in Russian fuel exports brought on by Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, governments are now scrambling to find new sources of energy while also issuing warnings that power outages may occur amid recessionary fears.
According to the country’s central bank, the German economy is already contracting and will probably get worse over the winter as gas consumption is reduced or rationed.
Following a declaration by President Emmanuel Macron that the two EU neighbors would assist one another with electricity and gas flows, the head of France’s CRE energy regulator said that natural gas exports to Germany could begin around October 10.
“Gas was (until now) only flowing from Germany to France, so we did not have the technical tools to reverse the flows and we did not even have a method to regulate prices,” CRE chief Emmanuelle Wargon told franceinfo radio.
While French energy company EDF is rushing to repair nuclear reactors damaged by corrosion, Wargon warned that “exceptional” measures this winter may include localized power outages if the weather is harsh and EDF’s plans are delayed.
“But there will be no gas cuts for households. Never,” she said.
Reyes Maroto, the minister of industry for Spain, stated that forcing energy-intensive businesses to shut down during periods of high consumption is a possibility this winter.
In an interview with the Spanish news agency Europa Press, she stated that the companies would receive financial compensation and that such closures were not necessary at this time.
The national grid operator Fingrid also advised Finns to be ready for power outages.
Finnish power retailer Karhu Voima Oy announced it had filed for bankruptcy due to a sharp increase in electricity prices, reflecting the disruptions experienced across the continent.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)