Dhe Russian gas flows are capped – should the gas price therefore also be capped? Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, who, like many others, expects even higher energy prices, is opposed to this. The price increases are an “external shock” and cannot be fully absorbed by the state, said the Green politician on Wednesday: “The country will have to bear this in one form or another.” In his opinion, a price cap would also be wrong in economic terms Signal. “Capping the prices would be a signal in the case of a scarce commodity: energy is not valuable, knock out what you want,” said Habeck on the sidelines of the Munich handicraft fair, according to the dpa news agency.
This week, the wholesale price for natural gas has risen significantly and is more than 160 euros per megawatt hour. This means that the costs for buyers have doubled within a month. If energy suppliers now have to buy additional natural gas because, for example, there is not enough Russian gas, the companies will have to pay more. The prices do not have to be passed on immediately, but sooner or later they will reach the end customers.
Habeck already warns of the burdens with a view to the coming winter. “We are still facing enormous price increases,” said the minister. According to Habeck, however, the federal government wants to ensure that the burden of high gas prices is distributed “fairly”. Among other things, the federal government is planning a surcharge for all gas customers, which all consumers should pay equally: This is intended to distribute the costs that arise from the lower gas deliveries from Russia, because some companies now have to procure more natural gas and without part of the cheaper deliveries Russia get along.
Public utilities in need
Due to the increased procurement prices, North Rhine-Westphalia is now planning a rescue package for municipal utilities in the state and is said to have already supported a municipal company directly. The rescue package should be closely based on the principle of the country’s billion-euro corona protection package for public infrastructure, said NRW Municipal Minister Ina Scharrenbach (CDU) to journalists on Wednesday. She said nothing about the amount and which municipal utility was affected.
The Association of Municipal Companies (VKU), in which municipal utilities have joined forces, previously also called for help for municipal utilities in the FAZ. “A lot is happening, but not enough,” says managing director Ingbert Liebing, and he adds: “In addition to the insolvency moratorium, we need a protective shield for public utilities!”
Despite the throttling along the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, the gas storage facilities continue to be filled. The filling level comes to almost 63 percent. The large storage facility in Rehden lags behind in the process, but now also reaches 23 percent. A lot will depend on how full the storage tanks are, particularly when it comes to supply in winter. The Federal Network Agency describes the situation as tense: A deterioration in the situation cannot be ruled out.
Call for energy saving
Netzagentur President Klaus Müller called on households and industry to use gas sparingly. According to the Gas Storage Act, the storage facilities should be 80 percent full by October 1st and 90 percent by November 1st. A lot depends on what the temperatures are like and how much gas comes from Russia and other countries. On July 11, gas flow from Nord Stream 1 will be halted for approximately two weeks for gas pipeline maintenance.
Müller is also not certain whether the storage target will be achieved in winter. “You could just as well ask me about the weather forecast for autumn,” he said on Wednesday during a visit to the site of the largest natural gas storage facility in Germany in Rehden near Diepholz in Lower Saxony. There are still many imponderables.
The replenishment of the storage is also possible because gas consumption is lower in the summer and so far this year has been lower than in the previous year. In the first half of the year, gas consumption in Germany fell by 14 percent, said Habeck. Even if you subtract a little from this number because of the warm winter, consumption was almost ten percent lower. There is no market problem with the gas supply, since the high prices “sucked in” a lot of gas to Europe, said Habeck. “It’s a physical problem, the gas just has to get there. (…) Unlike Italy, we don’t have an LNG terminal.”
The Federal Ministry of Economics also countered concerns that the shipping capacities for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) might not be sufficient. Information from the exchange with international gas traders suggested that “the LNG deliveries, including the necessary transports to Germany and to LNG landing terminals in neighboring EU countries, are secured”. It doesn’t matter that the tankers are German, because it’s an international market. Contractually unbound LNG is also currently arriving. This is from short-term purchases. The start of German terminals is planned for the end of the year in Wilhelmshaven and at the beginning of next year in Brunsbüttel.
Yasmin Fahimi, chairwoman of the DGB, spoke out in favor of capping gas prices. The CSU politician Alexander Dobrindt also campaigned for a cap on the basic needs of each person with a basic citizen price.
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