Germany prepares for judgment day in gas clash with Russia
German policymakers are considering a combination of factors that would trigger higher alert levels, including a sharp reduction in gas flows and signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to completely cut off supplies, according to people familiar with the talks. .
The highest stage, which would involve state control over gas distribution in Germany, is expected to follow soon after an escalation to the second “alarm” stage, the people said, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.
On Monday, Germany’s grid regulator, known as BNetzA, will compile the results of a survey in which more than 2,500 businesses detailed consumption patterns and energy options. It is among the building blocks of the potential rationing that the Bonn-based agency would implement if the government declares a national gas emergency.
The regulator has appointed 65 staff members who will work around the clock in shifts to help out in the event of a major outage. Operating from an annex of its headquarters near the Rhine, the teams will be responsible for making decisions that could determine the fate of some of Europe’s largest industrial companies and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Fuel is a crucial part of Germany’s energy mix and harder to replace than Russian coal and oil, which will be phased out by the end of the year. Around 15% of Germany’s electricity is produced from gas, up from less than 9% in 2000, as the country gradually reduces its use of coal and nuclear power.
But more importantly, gas is essential for heating homes and for industrial processes in the chemical, pharmaceutical and metals sectors. It is also widely used in German bakers’ ovens and for glassmaking.