Germany reveals when it will wean itself off Russian energy
Germany will completely end its dependence on some types of Russian energy this year – it will stop buying coal on August 1, and oil on December 31, Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Kukies announced on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Sydney Energy Forum amid ongoing gas shortage concerns, Kukies accused Moscow of having “a blatant disregard” for contractual obligations “by using gas as a weapon.” His remarks came after Gazprom reduced the flow of gas to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60% last month, citing sanctions-related issues. Kukies, however, said his country placed itself under “this concentrated risk of sourcing energy in such an undiversified way from one source.”
The deputy finance minister explained that in order to diversify sources of energy, his country is accelerating the drive for renewables. However, instead of switching directly from fossil fuels to renewables, it must switch “from fossil fuels including Russia to fossil fuels excluding Russia into renewables,” adding that doing so “simultaneously adds complexity,” but the first goal will be achieved very soon.
“We will be off of Russian coal in a few weeks. 1st of August – complete sanction, zero volume of coal from Russia, it used to be 40% of our coal mix,” he said.
Russian oil also constituted 40% of Germany’s imports, but it “will be zero” after December 31, according to Kukies.
“As you can imagine, anyone who knows the history of the Druzhba pipeline which was already a tool of the Soviet Empire over Eastern Europe – ridding yourself of that dependence is not a trivial matter but it is one that we will achieve in a few months,” he added.
Kukies said that Germany “accelerated the path towards independence from Russian gas” by building LNG infrastructure in a speedy manner.
“The first LNG ship will hopefully sail into the port of Hamburg either at the end of this year or early 2023,” he said.
Some German media outlets, however, have reported that the government’s LNG plan will not work, because the country does not have enough tankers and could face severe gas shortages this winter.
In the middle of June, the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was slashed due to operational challenges caused by the failure to return a turbine – which was sent to Canada for maintenance – due to the sanctions on Russia.
Russia has consistently denied Western accusations that it uses oil and gas as a political weapon. A few days ago, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “Russia is consistently fulfilling all its obligations, and Russia is still capable of guaranteeing Europe’s full energy security.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin previously accused EU leaders of committing economic “suicide” by attempting to give up Russian energy.