Gas supply: Energy association calls for the early warning level to be declared in the gas emergency plan – companies are unsettled
Berlin, Dusseldorf The Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries is calling on the federal government to declare the early warning level in the national gas emergency plan. BDEW boss Kerstin Andreae told the German Press Agency on Thursday in Berlin: “There are concrete and serious indications that we are coming to a deterioration in the gas supply situation.”
With the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that future gas deliveries will have to be paid for in rubles, an impact on gas deliveries cannot be ruled out. According to Andreae, the Federal Network Agency would have to develop criteria as to which industries and sectors would continue to be supplied with gas even in the event of a gas shortage.
“Household customers are protected by the existing regulation. In addition, the declaration of the early warning level must be coordinated at European level,” said Andreae. Announcement of the early warning level would mean that the preparations for an actual gas shortage in cooperation with municipalities, the Federal Network Agency and network operators would become extremely important.
However, the Ministry of Economics rejects the declaration of the early warning level. “There is currently no supply shortage in Germany. The security of supply is guaranteed,” emphasized the ministry on Thursday. “Therefore, there is currently no need for an early warning level according to the gas emergency plan.” However, the situation is being monitored closely.
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The early warning level currently being discussed is one of three crisis levels. All three are regulated in a 2017 Gas Supply Security Ordinance. The Federal Ministry of Economics can call out the early warning stage if, for example, there is a risk of a long-term undersupply of gas. Then gas network operators have to take action and ensure the supply. To do this, they can use contracts with companies that have already agreed to stop gas supplies in the event of an emergency.
In addition, in the early warning stage, the transmission system operators must send a written assessment of the situation to the Federal Ministry of Economics at least once a day. This in turn must inform the EU Commission about planned measures.
The second level is the alert level. This occurs when the gas supply is disrupted or the demand for gas is exceptionally high, causing the gas supply situation to deteriorate significantly. The consequences are similar to stage one – here too it is primarily the task of the network operator to keep the supply stable.
When the situation deteriorates to the point where the market can no longer cope with the gas supply, the emergency level occurs. The Federal Network Agency would then decide how the gas that is still available would be distributed.
In this last case, a state authority would have to decide who still gets gas and who doesn’t. Russian gas is not only needed in private households for heating and in gas-fired power plants to generate energy, but is also used to a large extent by companies.
Ministry of Economic Affairs sees supply guaranteed
So far there is only a rough plan of how to proceed in the event of a gas shortage. The “Gas Emergency Plan for the Federal Republic of Germany” stipulates that companies that have already given the option in their contracts of suspending supplies at short notice are affected first.
Gas-fired power plants, which are not systemically relevant to security of supply, are to follow in the next step. But then it is the turn of companies that actually did not expect such a case. It has not yet been regulated which companies could then be given priority. According to information from the Handelsblatt, the federal government is currently developing a plan as to which companies should be taken off the grid first in an emergency.
Meanwhile, there is uncertainty among the large gas companies as to how to deal with the situation. The MDax company Uniper and the gas importer Verbundnetz Gas (VNG) initially did not want to comment on request, the situation was too confusing so far. The Austrian company OMV, on the other hand, announced on Wednesday that it would continue to pay for gas deliveries in euros.
The large European companies that purchase gas from Russia have usually contractually agreed with their Russian partners the currency in which the respective gas deliveries are to be paid for. OMV is now referring to this.
>> Read also: The federal government is working on a shutdown plan for industry in the event of a gas delivery stop
So far, Russian gas suppliers like Gazprom have been paid primarily in dollars. The Russian supplier then has to exchange most of the payment for rubles with the Russian central bank. Putin now wants the West to pay the suppliers in rubles straight away.
There does not seem to have been a specific refusal of payments by Russia yet. OMV reports, for example, that it has not received any information from the contractual partner Gazprom as to whether payments in euros will continue to be accepted.
OMV guarantees compliance with all applicable sanctions and legal provisions at all times. The exact implementation of the Russian announcement should be worked out within a week.
With agency material
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