Germany’s Scholz underlines resolve to end dependence on Russian gas

Germany will deliver on plans to build two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and increase its natural gas reserves to cut its dependence on Russian imports after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday (27 February).

“We will do more to ensure secure energy supply for our country,” he said as part of a special Bundestag session called to address the Ukraine crisis.

“We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers.”

Germany has been under pressure from other Western nations to become less dependent on Russian gas, but its plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and to shut its nuclear power plants have meant that it is currently in a difficult position.

Earlier this week Germany halted the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, Europe’s most divisive energy project, in response to Russia’s actions toward Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia straight to Germany, bypassing traditional transit nation Ukraine, on the bed of the Baltic Sea.

Russia currently supplies around 40% of Europe’s gas.

Concerns about supply disruptions amid escalating tensions over Ukraine have led the EU to seek alternative supplies of gas in recent months, from countries including the United States, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Japan and South Korea.

European LNG imports hit a record high in January.

“The events of the past few days have shown us that responsible, forward-looking energy policy is decisive not only for our economy and the environment. It is also decisive for our security,” Scholz said.

The quicker Germany can expand renewable energy generation, the better, he said.

In addition, Germany will increase the volume of natural gas in its storage facilities by 2 billion cubic metres (bcm) via long-term options and will buy additional natural gas on world markets in coordination with the European Union, he said.

Germany has 24 bcm of underground caverns of gas storage, which are currently around 30% full, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data.

Scholz also said that Germany would quickly build two LNG terminals, in Brunsbuettel and Wilhelmshaven.

He had signalled his support for the construction of LNG terminals when he was finance minister and deputy chancellor in the previous government.

Looking more broadly, the EU plans to limit its reliance on fossil fuel imports over the next decade and beyond, by shifting to renewable energy and using less energy.

To meet its 2030 climate change target, the EU expects to reduce its natural gas consumption by more than 25% compared with 2015 levels.

Earlier this week Germany halted the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, Europe’s most divisive energy project, in response to Russia’s actions toward Ukraine.

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