With winter fast approaching, it will only take a “few freezing cold days” to empty Germany’s stored gas reserves, country’s energy and gas regulatory agency warns.
While Germany’s gas storage levels are currently well over 90 percent of their capacity, these “storage facilities could be quickly emptied if this winter gets really cold,” Reuters reported Friday citing Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s national energy regulatory authority (Die Bundesnetzagentur).
As Russia ceases to be Europe’s main gas and oil supplier following the Western sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine and the blowing up of the Russo-German Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea five weeks ago, Germany struggles to keep its citizens warm and its economy running in the winter months.
Reuters reported German regulator’s grim warning:
Germany’s gas storage facilities could be quickly emptied if this winter gets really cold, warned the head of the country’s network regulator in an interview with Spiegel weekly on Friday.
“Just a few freezing cold days are enough for a dramatic increase in gas consumption,” Klaus Mueller said.
Mueller’s Bundesnetzagentur would be in charge of gas rationing if it came to it, a scenario Germany wants to avoid at all costs via regular pleas to cut consumption by at least 20%.
As of Nov. 2, Germany’s gas storage levels stood at 99.3% and Mueller said that Europe’s top economy could keep going for around 9-10 weeks were it solely to rely on those tanks – provided it’ll be a mild winter as was the case in 2021/2022.
Search for new gas suppliers and other energy sources comes at a high price, with household energy bills soaring since the slashing of the cheap gas supply from Russia.
Describing the “skyrocketing” energy prices, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Wednesday:
To fill the gap left by Russia, Germany has had to buy gas and other energy alternatives on the expensive spot market. This has led to higher prices for consumers. Today an annual gas contract for a German household costs 173% more than it did a year ago, according to energy price portal Check24. That’s €3,726 ($3,702.15) for an average annual consumption of 20,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), compared to €1,365.
With ordinary Germans struggling to pay their energy bills, many are turning to firewood to heat their homes.
Authorities are reporting a surge in timber theft from German forests. “More wood is being stolen from German forests. The reason is the high energy prices and the shortage of firewood. The Forestry departments are responding with more controls, and forest owners are reporting of increasingly brazen thefts,” the Germany’s main state-run TV channel ARD reported recently.
The energy crisis is not limited to Germany alone, and isn’t going to end anytime soon. Entire Europe faces a massive energy crunch as the year comes to a close, latest news reports suggest.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that if the supply crunch continues, “Europe could face a severe natural gas shortage next year.”
Judging by the current trends, “Europe could face a shortfall of 30 billion cubic meters of gas next summer, the key period for filling supplies ahead of the winter heating season, when there is stronger demand for the fuel,” the AP added.
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