Dhe controversial gas surcharge to support large gas importers is faced with a possible nationalization of the ailing utility Uniper on the test bench. According to information from the German Press Agency, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has “doubts about the financial constitution”. Habeck is also said to have indicated that the financing requirements for the gas suppliers are significantly higher than when the first rescue package for Uniper was negotiated.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the unstable situation needs "the power and the guarantee of the state as well as all the financial strength of the state" that is necessary. However, the Federal Ministry of Finance is responsible for the final examination and responsibility for the financial constitutional law. The ARD capital office had previously reported on it.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economics said on request that "of course one must also keep an eye on how the emerging need for stabilization of systemically important companies is affecting the gas market, what questions it raises and what answers are necessary". She pointed out that adjustments were currently being made to the planned gas surcharge and that the group of companies eligible to apply was being reduced in such a way that free riders were not included. In addition, legal aid issues would be clarified.
Gas storage more than 90 percent full
The gas surcharge is intended to support gas importers who get into trouble because of the high purchase prices for Russian gas. The surcharge for all gas users is currently set at around 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour. According to the current status, the first advance payments should be due at the end of October. The levy is to be introduced on October 1 of this year. Habeck tries to limit the group of eligible companies so that only companies that are really in need benefit.
Uniper is in trouble because Russia is practically no longer pumping gas to Germany, but Uniper has to fulfill its long-term contracts and buys the missing gas expensively on the market. The situation of Germany's most important gas importer has worsened as a result of the renewed closure of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.
According to the company, a stronger commitment from the federal government is under discussion. Among other things, the parties involved examined “a direct capital increase that would lead to a significant majority stake by the federal government in Uniper,” Uniper recently announced. In July, the federal government, the group and its Finnish parent company Fortum agreed on a billion-euro rescue package, which also provides for the federal government to get involved.
Despite the ones that were discontinued at the end of August gas deliveries from Russia, the German gas storage facilities are meanwhile more than 90 percent full. This emerges from data from the European storage operators, which were published on the Internet on Monday evening. According to this, the storage tanks reached a level of 90.07 percent last Sunday – 0.32 percentage points more than the previous day. The level information is always reported with a delay.
A ministerial regulation stipulates that the German storage facilities should be at least 95 percent full by November 1st, i.e. in six weeks. The amount of gas stored at this level roughly corresponds to nationwide consumption in January and February 2022.
Buffer system for the gas market
The storage facilities compensate for fluctuations in gas consumption and thus form a kind of buffer system for the gas market. They are usually well filled when the heating season begins in autumn. The filling levels then decrease until spring. On cold winter days, up to 60 percent of gas consumption in Germany is covered by German storage facilities.
the federal government wants to use various measures to ensure that the gas storage tanks are as full as possible at the beginning of the heating period. Germany should be able to cope better with the total failure of Russian deliveries in winter.
Germany currently receives natural gas via pipelines from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. At the turn of the year, the first two terminals for the landing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be put into operation.
The gas storage EU were on average 85.99 percent full on Sunday, according to preliminary information. Since the spring, the EU-wide requirement has stipulated that storage tanks must be 80 percent full by November 1st. This goal had already been achieved at the end of August. 18 Member States have underground gas storage facilities.
The filling level of the largest German storage facility in Rehden in Lower Saxony is currently almost 75 percent. Due to planned maintenance of this storage facility, no more storage has been carried out since last Monday. The maintenance should last until next Saturday.
According to the Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck there is a chance for Germany to “get through the winter well” despite the lack of Russian gas. A chance – the Green politician repeated the word to journalists in Lubmin on Monday. Because a lot has to be saved in Germany for this, and you need “a bit of luck with the weather”. But still: According to his own statement, he would not have said it like that a few months ago.