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Olaf Scholz: Germany could give up Russian oil imports this year, not Russian gas


Speaking at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, Scholz also said that Germany will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself from the Russian invasion, Reuters reports

The announcement by the Russian government that in the future it will only want to supply gas with payment in rubles has put pressure on the German federal government. Russian gas imports account for more than half of German gas consumption.

Replacing this volume would not be possible in the short term. But Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck has announced that Germany wants to become virtually independent this year from oil and coal imports from Russia.

Habeck says he has already taken steps to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian energy imports following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “By mid-2024,” the country would like to be “largely independent” of Russian gas, for example by accelerating the expansion of liquefied natural gas capacity. However, this takes much longer than, for example, reducing oil or coal imports from Russia, writes HotNews.

Gas mixture

Anke Tuschek, a member of the executive board of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), said the short-term redistribution of gas through the European network “But it would already be a challenge because 40% of the gas we consume in Germany is used for trade and industry, completely independent of the heating period.

The trend is towards LNG, for which there are many terminals throughout Europe. In Germany, however, there are not enough terminals and adequate storage facilities for liquefied gas, the BDEW expert added: “They should be built now, but that will take at least two years.”

According to Tuschek, Russian gas is currently being transported to Europe via the Nord Stream 1, Yamal and Transgas pipelines. In the lines of network operators, it mixes with gas from other pipelines – so there is no “Russian gas” for end customers. Rather, suppliers would take their share of the total amount they had previously purchased from merchants or the energy exchange.

There are long-term and short-term contracts, Tuschek explains. But they all have one thing in common: payment is made in euros or dollars. “We do not know if the rubles were explicitly agreed.”

What the Kremlin has now threatened is a unilateral change of contract. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has already announced that he will not accept this.

Emergency plan

If the Russian side implements its threat and stops deliveries, a multi-stage contingency plan will enter into force. “In the event of a national gas shortage, the Federal Network Agency would have designated the federal distributor,” the Brandenburg Ministry of Economic Affairs said.

The Federal Network Agency then ensures that, together with the network operators, the gas reaches the important points and the “protected customers”. The term is used throughout Europe. In the heating season, these are customers who benefit from heating, social services, hospitals, etc.

An emergency plan has already been drawn up in September 2019, reports Karlsruher Insider.de. There are a total of three levels that can be declared by the federal government in an emergency: early warning, alert, and emergency. In the last phase there is an acute shortage of gas, therefore the state intervenes and regulates the allocation of resources.

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