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ENERGY

Germany to ‘fast-track’ gas terminals as part of Qatar deal

Germany has committed to "fast track" the construction of two liquefied natural gas terminals as part of a new long-term deal with Qatar as it looks to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck after talks with the Minister of Trade and Industry of Qatar in Doha.
Economics and Climate Minister Robert Habeck after talks with the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Qatar in Doha. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Economic Affairs Minister Robert Habeck secured the accord during talks in Doha with its emir and energy minister who have been pressing European nations to strike long-term deals to guarantee their supplies.

European states have been forced to turn to Qatar in recent months as they seek an LNG alternative to Russian gas in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Qatar has insisted on long contracts because of the huge cost of investing in gas production. Already one of the world’s top three LNG exporters, Qatar plans to increase production by 50 percent by 2027.

READ ALSO: Germany seals energy deal with Qatar in move away from Russia

Qatar’s energy ministry said that several years of talks with Germany had never led to “definitive agreements due to the lack of clarity on the long-term role of gas in Germany’s energy mix and the requisite LNG import infrastructure.”

It added that in a meeting between Habeck and Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, “the German side confirmed that the German government has taken swift and concrete actions to fast-track the development of two LNG receiving terminals in Germany as a matter of priority to allow for the long term import of LNG to Germany and that such scheme has the full support of the German government.”

The two sides “agreed that their respective commercial entities would re-engage and progress discussions on long-term LNG supplies from Qatar to Germany.”

READ ALSO: Germany begins slow move away from Russian gas after Ukraine invasion

In Berlin, a German spokeswoman confirmed a long-term partnership had been struck and that companies would “enter into the concrete contract negotiations”, the spokeswoman said.

Habeck also held talks in Doha with the emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani before heading to the United Arab Emirates where he is expected to hold talks on oil supplies.

Ahead of his trip, Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio that Germany had major concerns over securing supplies for next winter.

“If we do not obtain more gas next winter and if deliveries from Russia were to be cut then we would not have enough gas to heat all our houses and keep all our industry going,” he warned.

Berlin has come in for criticism over its opposition to an immediate embargo being imposed on Russian energy supplies as a means of choking off Moscow’s foreign earnings.

Germany believes a boycott could cause major economic damage as well as huge rises in energy prices.

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ENERGY

Should tenants in Germany be shielded from energy price hikes?

Gas prices have more than tripled in the past year, prompting tenants' rights advocates to call for more social support and a cap on energy costs.

Should tenants in Germany be shielded from energy price hikes?

The German’s Tenants’ Association is calling on the government to put together a new energy relief package to help renters deal with spiralling energy costs.

Gas has become an increasing scarce resource in Germany, with the Economics Ministry raising the alert level recently after Russia docked supplies by 60 percent.

The continued supply issues have caused prices to skyrocket. According to the German import prices published on Thursday, natural gas was three times as expensive in May 2022 as it was in May a year ago.

In light of the exploding prices, the German Tenants’ Association is putting the government under pressure to offer greater relief for renters.

READ ALSO: 

Proposals on the table include a moratorium on terminating tenancy agreements and a permanent heating cost subsidy for all low-income households.

The Tenants’ Association has argued that nobody should face eviction for being unable to cope with soaring bills and is urging the government to adjust housing benefits in line with the higher prices. 

Gas price cap

Renters’ advocates have also joined a chorus of people advocating for a cap on consumer gas prices to prevent costs from rising indefinitely.

Recently, Frank Bsirske, a member of the parliamentary Green Party and former head of the trade union Verdi, spoke out in favour of capping prices. Bavaria’s economics minister and Lower Saxony’s energy minister have also advocated for a gas price cap in the past. 

According to the tenants’ association, the vast majority of tenants use gas for heating and are directly affected by recent price increases.

At the G7 summit in Bavaria this week, leaders of the developed nations discussed plans for a coordinated cut in oil prices to prevent Russia from reaping the rewards of the energy crisis. 

In an initiative spearheaded by the US, the group of rich nations agreed to task ministers will developing a proposal that would see consumer countries refusing to pay more than a set price for oil imports from Russia.

READ ALSO: Germany and G7 to ‘develop a price cap’ on Russian oil

A gas price cap would likely be carried out on a more national level, with the government regulating how much of their costs energy companies can pass onto consumers. 

Strict contract laws preventing sudden price hikes mean that tenants in Germany are unlikely to feel the full force of the rising gas prices this year

However, the Tenant’s Association pointed out that, if there is a significant reduction in gas imports, the Federal Network Agency could activate an emergency clause known as the price adjustment clause.

This would allow gas suppliers to pass on higher prices to their customers at short notice. 

The Tenants’ Association has warned that the consequences of an immediate market price adjustment, if it happens, should be legally regulated and socially cushioned.

In the case of the price adjustment clause being activated, the government would have to regulate the costs that companies were allowed to pass onto consumers to prevent social upheaval. 

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