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Germany Vows to End Russian Stranglehold on their Energy Supply by Summer

by Guy McCardle May 3, 2022
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Tanks for producing bio gas are pictured at the harbor in Hamburg, Germany. Image Credit: Martin Meissner/AP
Tanks for producing bio gas are pictured at the harbor in Hamburg, Germany. Image Credit: Martin Meissner/AP

Germany says it’s making progress on weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels and claims it will be entirely independent of Russian crude oil imports by late summer.

Robert Habeck, Vice-Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said Sunday that they had reduced their share of Russian energy imports to just 12% for oil, 8% for coal, and 35% for natural gas.

Industrial facilities of PCK Raffinerie oil refinery are pictured in Schwedt/Oder, Germany. The company receives crude oil from Russia via the “Friendship” pipeline. Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

They have been under intense pressure from Ukraine and other nations in Europe to cut Russian energy imports worth billions of euros used to fill Vladimir Putin’s war chest.

Habeck said in a statement:

“All these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers. But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia.” 

His announcement comes as the entire European Union is considering an embargo on Russian oil, following a decision to ban Russian coal imports starting this August.  The EU pays Russia the equivalent of $850 million daily for oil and natural gas. Germany has historically been one of the largest importers of Russian energy.

Germany has managed to tap other countries for their oil and coal imports relatively quickly, meaning that “the end of dependence on Russian crude oil imports by late summer is realistic,” Habeck’s ministry said.

A more significant challenge lies ahead: Weaning Germany from mother Russia’s natural gas. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany got more than half her natural gas via imports from Russia. Today, that share is down to 35%, partly due to getting more from Norway and the Netherlands.

Brunsbüttel floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) terminal is to begin operating at the start of 2023 in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Image Courtesy of German LNG Terminal

To cut the Russian ties even faster, Germany plans to speed up the construction of terminals for liquified natural gas, or LNG. The Energy and Climate Ministry plans to put several floating LNG terminals (as shown above) into operation as early as the end of this year. That’s quite an ambitious timeline that the ministry has acknowledged “requires a tremendous effort from everyone involved.” 

Deutschland has resisted calls for an EU boycott of Russian natural gas. Last week, it closely watched with worry as Moscow immediately halted natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after they rejected Russian demands to pay for gas in rubles. Government officials throughout the EU called those moves by Russia “energy blackmail.”

The Central Bank of Germany has said a total cutoff of Russian gas could mean five percentage points of lost economic output and higher inflation.

Still, it’s a small price to pay to be out from underneath Russia’s unpredictable thumb.

Lesson learned.

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