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German regulator fears complete Russian gas cut-off

July 2, 2022

Russia could be planning to stop gas deliveries to Germany, and consumers must be prepared, a top energy official says. That preparation should start now, he warned.

Nord Stream 1 gas reception station in Lubmin
Officials fear Russia could extend a break for maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 for political reasonsImage: Stefan Sauer/dpa/picture alliance

Russia could be planning to use a regular maintenance break on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline as an opportunity to cut the gas supply to Germany completely, making it vital to save as much gas as possible, a German official has told newspapers.

The question was whether the planned 11-day maintenance period, due to start July 11, will "become a longer [period] of political maintenance," Klaus Müller, the head of the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzwerkagentur), told Saturday newspapers from the Funke Media Group.

He said that if the gas supply from Russia "is reduced longer for political reasons, we have to talk more seriously about ways to cut consumption."

Russia has already cut or reduced its gas supply to several European countries amid tensions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

What else did Müller say?

Home and apartment owners should use the 12 weeks remaining before the heating season starts to prepare for such an eventuality, Müller said.

He said gas boilers and heaters should be urgently inspected to ensure their efficient operation.

"Maintenance checks can reduce gas consumption by 10 to 15%," he said. "It should be done now and not in the fall."

He called on tradespeople working in the sector to concentrate on heating and hot-water systems to avoid problems getting appointments.

However, he stressed that gas was the only energy source currently at risk.

"The crisis situation applies to gas, and not electricity," he said, adding that fuel and oil were not in short supply.

Müller also said that priorities would have to be set if there were to be a shortage of gas.

"We cannot class every business as essential," he said, adding that "public swimming pools are probably not in the critical sector, just like the production of chocolate cookies."  

But he emphasized that his agency predicted "no scenario in which no gas at all reaches Germany," saying that Norway and the Netherlands were other potential sources.

Cold showers in Hamburg?

Müller is not the only German official to warn of the need to save gas.

In the northern city of Hamburg, the state environment minister, Jens Kerstan, announced that the hot-water supply for private households could be reduced.

"If there were to be an acute gas shortage, hot water could be made available in an emergency only at certain times of day," he told the paper Welt am Sonntag.

He said the maximum room temperature allowed by the district heating grid could also be lowered.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told the same newspaper that the first two temporary liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals in the cities of Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel should be ready to go into operation at the turn of the year.

He said the government had procured four floating LNG terminals as it seeks alternatives to Russian gas.

"Everyone is making a real effort here, because we have to set the kind of pace that has never been seen before in Germany," he said.

tj/nm (dpa, AFP)