German Natural Gas Reserves at an Alarmingly Low Level
One week long of extreme cold, and Germany would run out of natural gas reserves. According to a study carried out for the Economic Ministry back in 2015 by the Becker Büttner Held consultancy, gas storage facilities must be at least 40% full by Feb. 1 of each year in order to suffice for seven days of very cold winter weather. “We crossed that threshold last week”, said Sebastian Bleschke, CEO of the Initiative Energien Speichern, an association of energy storage companies, on Feb. 3. Indeed, by Feb. 1, the reserves were down to only 36.9%.
If that is the case, it is simply suicidal to openly oppose, or even call into question the continuation of gas imports from Russia. And yet, in line with the European Commission’s policy, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck, co-chair of the Green Party, told newspapers of the Funke Media Group and the French newspaper Ouest-France (Feb. 3), that Germany should minimize its dependency on Russian gas. Given the geopolitical situation, he said, we need to create other import options and diversify the supply. It’s a question of security, in his view, so “We have to act and better protect ourselves. If we don’t, we become a pawn in the game.”
Habeck is also against the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline: “Geopolitically, Nord Stream 2 not only exacerbates dependence on Russian gas, but also focuses on a supply route that is vulnerable.”
However, without sufficient volumes of Russan gas available, Germany and Europe would be in a precarious situation, as there are no large amounts of oil and gas freely available on the global market. That reality was underlined by the Director of the Russian National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov in a Feb. 1 interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Without Russian hydrocarbons, prices will soar, he warned. Saudi Arabia would not be even able to make up for such shortages, even if it wanted to. The only remaining option would be Iran, but it has long been placed under U.S. sanctions on the one hand, and does not have the infrastructure needed to supply energy to Europe on the other.