German energy official Klaus Müller, head of the Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, warned on Friday that consumers could see their gas bills rise by two or even three times as Germany faces the prospect of a cut in the supply of Russian gas.
He told public broadcaster ARD that an upcoming maintenance shutdown on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline which brings Russian gas directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea could see the gas shut off entirely.
“Most scenarios are not pretty and either result in too little gas at the end of winter or already – a very difficult situation – in autumn or winter,” Müller said.
Russia has already reduced gas supply through the pipeline to just 40% of its capacity. The German energy chief urged people to take action now to save energy, as a further cut in Russian gas could see energy bills double or even triple depending on the building.
“Everyone in the industry and in their home life can contribute to this – and yes, that also includes jumpers, shower heads, turning the heat down a bit, it all helps,” he said. .
The uncertainty over Russian gas supplies comes as Germany backs Ukraine against Russian invasion.
Industries may have to shut down due to gas shortages
On Thursday, Müller predicted that Germany could go without Russian gas for two and a half months this winter.
“If the storage facilities in Germany were mathematically 100% full…we could do without Russian gas completely…for about two and a half months, then the storage tanks will be empty,” he said. he told Maybrit. Illner program Thursday on the German channel ZDF.
He said Germany needed to save gas and find new suppliers amid supply shortages from Russia. He was speaking in a separate interview with broadcaster RTL/ntv.
Earlier on Thursday, Germany entered the second phase of its emergency gas plan, which would allow suppliers to pass on high costs to consumers, but only with official approval from the Bundesnetzagentur.
Müller said that if Germany entered the third phase of the plan, it would have “terrible and drastic” consequences for the gas industry. In this phase, the Bundesnetzagentur would ration gas, giving priority to private households over energy companies.
German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck told a German magazine The Spiegel Friday that some industries would have to be shut down if the gas supply was too low in winter.
“Companies would have to shut down production, lay off their workers, supply chains would collapse, people would go into debt to pay their heating bills, people would get poorer,” he said.
He told the magazine that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal was to divide the country, creating “the best breeding ground for populism, which aims to undermine our liberal democracy from within.” He went on to say that Germany cannot allow the plan to work.
Germany faces energy crisis as Russia cuts gas supplies
Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas. Although Germany and other EU member states imposed an embargo on Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine, Berlin was reluctant to implement a ban on Russian gas imports.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said earlier this month it would further cut gas supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Gazprom has also cut gas supplies to France and to Italy in the context of Western sanctions against Russia.
In order to diversify its energy strategy away from Russian sources, Germany recently signed a gas partnership with Qatar. Germany is also turning on coal-fired power plants to become more self-sufficient, despite the environmental downsides.
ab, wd/sms, kb (Reuters, dpa, TUSEN)