WEconomics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) believes it is possible that Russia will no longer deliver any gas after the maintenance interval for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. When asked the relevant question, according to a preliminary report in the RTL Nachtjournal, he says: “I would have to lie if I said I’m not afraid of it.” The argument of technical problems was put forward, it was a political measure from Moscow, Habeck continued. “And who knows what the next political measure will be. Well, I’m not without worries.”
When asked if he could imagine the gas bills trebling, Habeck said: “That cannot be ruled out (…) yes, that is within the realm of possibility.” A price wave is coming to Germany, which in fact is not more to be averted. The President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, had previously said that he thought it was possible for consumer prices to triple. “If you extrapolate it, it depends a lot on how you heat, how your building is constructed. But the previous gas bill can triple,” said Müller on Thursday at RTL/ntv.
The companies would have to pass the higher prices on to the customers at some point so that they didn’t “keel over”, the Green Economics Minister had previously told ZDF. However, this is a “double-edged, sharp” sword: “If you’re not careful, we’ll have a major social problem.” “And if someone says I’ll only do it if I get 50 euros, I’d say: You won’t get it, old man.”
Habeck fears “Lehman Brothers effect in the energy market”
Habeck warned on the ARD of a so-called domino effect in the energy market and explained his fears of a possible recession. “The risk that energy suppliers might find themselves in an economic situation where they can no longer raise money on the market to buy gas” is high, according to the Economics Minister. It must therefore be prevented “that they fall out of the market”. Habeck fears “a kind of Lehman Brothers effect in the energy market”, which will then also affect public utilities, commercial and industrial companies and consumers. He will take care to prevent that.
The Economics Minister also announced that “measures to unite” are now needed – “so that Putin does not win”. For him, it was a painful decision to restart coal-fired power plants because gas was now extremely scarce. But you have to see that a lot is happening. He referred, for example, to the “rapid” expansion of wind power by legal means and the demand for it, as well as building renovation. “The industry wants to get away from fossil fuels faster.”
At the same time, Habeck let it be known that he interpreted the reduced deliveries of Russian gas as a sign of effective sanctions against Russia. “It’s true, Putin gets money from selling fossil fuels, but he can buy less and less of it because the West has sanctioned so many goods. And because he can no longer buy anything with this money, he says: Then I won’t need the money anymore and I’ll reduce the gas.”
Already in the early morning, the Green Federal Minister of Economics had declared a new alarm level for the availability of gas in Germany. It is the second of three escalation levels of an emergency plan. At the same time, he announced that he did not want to cap gas prices directly. “We want to continue to monitor the market,” he said. For the time being, the federal government is not making use of the price adjustment mechanism that allows providers to make price jumps in current contracts. There are already price increases for consumers. He pointed out that summer provides a false sense of security, but one must prepare for winter. Germany has missed a lot in the past decade. Dependence on Russia for energy supplies must now be gradually reduced.