Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The German government has issued an early warning of possible natural gas shortages on Wednesday, noting that deliveries from Russia could be stopped.
The move shows that the EU is preparing for disruptions of natural gas supplies after imposing broad sanctions against Russia, on which it relies for gas supply, according to Reuters reporting on Wednesday.
In response to Western sanctions, Russia announced it would start charging for natural gas in roubles, which was criticised by G7 members including Germany.
In Germany’s natural gas emergency plan, issuing an early warning is part of the first sage, which does not include government intervention.
Robert Habeck, German Economy Minister, called on companies and citizens to limit their consumption, stressing that “every kilowatt hour counts.”
Speaking at a press conference, he pointed out that the government was keeping a close eye on supply flows.
“Nevertheless, we must increase precautionary measures to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia,” Habeck noted and added “with the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened.”
Germany to reduce dependence
Supplies from Russia accounted for 55% of Germany’s natural gas imports last year and roughly 40% in the first quarter of this year. Habeck previously announced plans to wean Germany off Russian gas imports, predicting that the process could be completed in mid-2024.
He pointed out that the crisis team comprises government officials, network operators and regulator, and state representatives, stressing that it will keep track of the situation and react if necessary.
The Federal Network Agency, German regulator, urged companies and citizens to prepare for “all scenarios.”
Commenting on Moscow’s plan to start charging for natural gas in roubles, Habeck stressed that the move is not in line with existing contracts.
“We will not accept any breach of private delivery contracts, and I am pleased that companies agree,” he stated.
Also on Wednesday, Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Russian parliament, stressed that the EU will have to pay for Russian gas in roubles.
He added that the switch to payments in roubles should be expanded to other exports including coal, cooking oil, fertiliser, grains, metals and more.