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ENERGY

Will Germany’s gas supplies last the winter?

The German Association for Natural Gas, Petroleum and Geoenergy (BVEG) says it does not expect any gas bottlenecks in the coming winter, provided there are no further restrictions on Russian gas supply.

The facility of the natural gas storage of Astora GmbH in Lower Saxony.
The facility of the natural gas storage of Astora GmbH in Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

Despite the significantly reduced supply of Russian gas which has been impacting Germany for weeks, German gas storage facilities are now more than 75 percent full.

Managing Director of the German Association for Natural Gas, Petroleum and Geoenergy (BVEG) Ludwig Möhring said that, if the supply situation remains as it is and if conservation efforts continue, “we will be able to fill the gas storage facilities as planned, given normal weather conditions.” 

According to the latest data from European gas storage operators on Saturday evening, the fill level of Germany’s gas storage facilities is 75.43 percent. This means the first storage target of a new energy conservation regulation was reached more than two weeks earlier than planned. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How much will Germany’s gas levy cost you?

“We reached the first interim goal ahead of schedule. That is pleasing,” said Klaus Müller, president of the Federal Network Agency. “Now it is important not to slack off in filling the storage facilities. The gas that is now flowing into the storage facilities can help us in the winter.” 

However, the next targets are ambitious, he said.

The regulation states that German storage facilities must be at least 75 percent full by September 1st, at least 85 percent full by October 1st and at 95 percent by November 1st. The amount of gas stored at a fill level of 95 percent is roughly equivalent to Germany’s gas consumption in January and February 2022.

The managing director of the storage association Ines, Sebastian Bleschke, said that cold autumnal weather could still lead to the November target being missed. “If there are normal temperatures in October, the beginning of the heating season has a strong impact on the possibility of storing gas. On particularly cold days, gas withdrawals can be so high that inputs do not meet demand,” Bleschke said. 

READ ALSO: 8 simple ways you can save on heating costs in Germany

According to the Federal Network Agency, gas consumption in Germany this year – up to and including July – was almost 14 percent lower than in the same period last year. According to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), the main reasons for this are both mild weather and high prices.

Russia is still pumping natural gas to Germany, but for more than two weeks the important Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline has only been operating at around 20 percent capacity. The Russian gas company blames this on technical reasons, while the German government considers this to be a deliberate, politically motivated move.

Vocabulary

Regulation – (die) Verordnung

Storage facility – (der) Speicher

To fill – etwas füllen

Heating season – (die) Heizperiode

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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BUSINESS & INDUSTRY

Fears of a recession in Germany grow as business confidence falls

Germany's business climate deteriorated sharply in September, according to a key survey published Monday, the latest sign that Europe's top economy is heading for recession as it faces an energy crisis.

Fears of a recession in Germany grow as business confidence falls

The Ifo institute’s monthly confidence barometer, based on a survey of about 9,000 companies, slipped 4.3 points to 84.3 from the previous month.

It was the fourth straight month of contraction, taking the indicator to its lowest level since May 2020, with the decline felt across the economy, from manufacturing to the service sector.

“The German economy is slipping into recession,” said Ifo president Clemens Fuest.

“Pessimism regarding the coming months has grown decidedly.”

READ ALSO: Germany ‘faces recession’ as energy crisis bits 

Germany is facing soaring inflation, particularly of energy prices, after Russia cut gas supplies through a key pipeline as tensions mount over the Ukraine war.

While all of Europe is affected, Germany has been hard hit as it was heavily reliant on Russian supplies prior to the war.

A recession in Germany was now “inevitable”, said ING analyst Carsten Brzeski, pointing to “high inflation, surging energy prices, ongoing supply chain frictions and weakening global demand”.

In the survey, confidence in the manufacturing sector — a driver of the German economy – fell particularly sharply, recording a drop of 14.2 points.

Businesses’ assessment of the current situation also fell 3.0 points to 94.5 points.

The barometer was the latest warning that Germany is heading for a contraction, with the OECD also forecasting Monday that Europe’s economic powerhouse would shrink next year.

German GDP grew a slight 0.1 percent between April and June.

Inflation rose at a 7.9-percent rate in Germany in August, well above the two-percent target of the European Central Bank.

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