According to experts, it is wise that Germany is keen on emergency measures now that Russia supplies significantly less gas. Since this week, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline supplies only 40 percent of its normal quantity. The rest of Europe will also notice the effects of this. “I think this is a tipping point,” says energy specialist Aad Correljé of TU Delft.
About 40 percent of all the gas that Europe imports arrives via Nord Stream 1 from Russia in Germany, from where it continues to be fed. Despite geopolitical tensions, the supply via this pipeline remained fairly stable until this week, Correljé explains. “For Europe, it is a sign on the wall that there is now substantially less supply.”
‘Emergency situation also for the Netherlands’
This is what energy expert Lucia van Geuns, affiliated with the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies agrees: “Germany is now very clearly saying that there is an emergency situation. And I think this should also apply to the Netherlands. After all, we form one big gas system in Europe.”
Italy, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany, among others, notice that the gas supply is choking. Russia says deliveries are lagging for technical reasons. But, according to German Chancellor Scholz, it‘s all about the EU’s sanctions against Moscow because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Van Geuns: “Putin is leading fallacies to deliver less, driving down the gas price. He also knows that filling gas stocks will then become problematic in Europe.”
So Germany wants to take the safe side of things. In order to avoid shortages in winter, the industrial sector must consume less gas, according to German media is the intention of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The government would also make 15 billion euros available to replenish gas stocks.
According to Correljé, the measures that Germany wants to introduce are unprecedented. “Germany is therefore extremely dependent on Russian gas.” About a third of all gas comes from Russia. “It involves huge volumes and, for technical reasons, the speed at which this can be supplemented is limited.”
The German stocks are currently filled at around 56 percent. The goal is to get that up to 90 percent by November.
“Transparency issue in the Netherlands”
The Netherlands consulted with, among others, the German Government and the European Commission this weekend and will do so again tomorrow, says the Ministry for Climate and Energy in a response to the news from Germany.
But Correljé and Van Geuns believe that the cabinet should at least be more transparent about how to deal with the problem. In their view, this is essential in order to be able to make a correct assessment about any emergency measures. But also to know whether sufficient gas supply is being built up for the winter at the current rate.
Energy Transition Lecturer Martien Visser tweeted yesterday a graph showing the percentage of gas stocks filled in the Netherlands, the EU and neighbouring countries:
Commercial parties are stimulated by the Dutch government to fill the storage areas through a subsidy scheme. “My main concern is that due to the current developments, these market players will also have problems replenishing that stock,” says Van Geuns. “It should therefore be monitored and communicated from week to week how the replenishment of our gas supply is going.”
Correljé: “If you leave this to the market, as a government, you really have to jump in on time. Because beyond a certain point, the problem is not easy to fix. That is why, in this case, it is better to take the safe for the uncertain.”