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German Minister Sees ‘No Sensible Alternative’ to Russian Gas

Public Policy

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said there was “no sensible alternative” to Russian natural gas imports and it was unlikely Russia would stop deliveries because of the crisis over Ukraine, a German daily reported Friday.

“Even in the darkest hours of the Cold War, Russia respected its contracts,” the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung reported Gabriel, who is also energy minister and vice chancellor, as telling an energy forum.

Europe’s biggest economy is heavily reliant on Russian gas, which accounted for about a third of its gas imports last year, BDEW figures show. Germany’s top utilities E.ON and RWE receive most of their gas from Russia’s state-controlled gas producer Gazprom.

Russia’s seizure of the Crimea region and its threat to cut off gas to Ukraine, a transit route to the rest of Europe, has prompted European leaders to consider strategies to curb the bloc’s energy reliance on Russia.

Gabriel also said that two current business deals with Russia by German companies BASF and RWE were “company decisions” and “essentially unproblematic,” according to the newspaper.

The newspaper said Gabriel also told the forum that Europe’s now shelved plans to build the Nabucco pipeline from the Caspian Sea to provide natural gas and make Europe less reliant on Russia was not a serious option to ensure energy security given that Iran would have been “at the end of the pipeline.”

The project was shelved last year although EU officials say it could still be built one day if more Caspian gas becomes available.

moscow times

13 Comments on "German Minister Sees ‘No Sensible Alternative’ to Russian Gas"

  1. Plantagenet on Sun, 30th Mar 2014 11:43 pm 

    The Germans set their economy up to be dependent on Russian NG and now they discover they are dependent on Russian NG.

    Soooo-prise Soooo-prise.

  2. jimmy on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 12:16 am 

    So Plant, what was there other choice? What should they have done?

  3. rockman on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 12:53 am 

    “…what was there other choice?” Qatar exports over 2000 bcf/yr. Germany consumes about 800 bcf/yr. So Germany could have been importing Qatar LNG years go instead of Russian NG. So they have had a choice. It would have cost more to not be dependent upon Russian NG but they chose economics over security. Their choice. Of course, that would have made them dependent upon Qatar. But since they consume far more NG then they produce they had to be dependent upon someone. But, again, who that would be was their choice.

    If you lay down with a dog you shouldn’t be surprised if you wake up with fleas. LOL.

  4. rollin on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 1:19 am 

    Germany just needs to control Russia and the problem is solved. At least for a while.

  5. Davy, Hermann, MO on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 1:29 am 

    Let us face it there are not many options for Germany and NatGas. The situation with Russia is a good one in reality. The relationship allows Germany a large export market and in return gas. Russia has a stable well financed customer. I imagine it is this relationship and co-dependence that will quiet the whole affair. I see Ukraine in the position of accepting what 3rd parties dictate because they have no choice. Ukraine is broke. I do not think the US is in a position to damage Germany by pushing the Ukraine issue. Arthur and DC would disagree. This Ukrainian deal will have some bumps but because of mutual self-interest and codependence I don’t think we will see an out of control crisis develop.

  6. Kenz300 on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 1:56 am 

    There are plenty of alternatives………. you just have to break away from the old centralized fossil fuel paradigm.

    i wonder how many trash land fills are currently operating in Germany. Each one can be converted to produce energy, biofuels and recycled raw materials for new products.

    Wind and solar can be used to displace natural gas power plants…….

    Things can be done….not one big thing but many smaller things.

  7. Boat on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 2:07 am 

    Insulation, caulking, efficient windows along with wind, nuclear and solar would be a lot better than weapons spending. Europe along with the Ukraine need to put their attention to eliminating the need for Russian fossil fuels. If the time comes for a military solution Germany nor the Ukraine would stand a chance so why waste money on arms. However Nato could take out Russia easy if they chose to cut off gas or advance any farther with expansionism.

  8. jimmy on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 2:15 am 

    Well, Kenz each one of those have some serious draw backs. Wind and solar have the intermittency problem. The wind doesn’t always blow and if it does it blows at the wrong time. The sun only shines during the day and under ideal circumstances only produces a fraction of the energy. Storage is real problem that no ones solved yet. The others on your list such as biofuels and trash to energy have cost and scalabilty challenges to put it mildly. The Minister said there was no “sensible” alternative and I think he is right.

  9. Chris Hill on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 2:20 am 

    I feel somewhat sorry for the German government. I don’t know if I like nuclear power or not, so many unanswered questions with it, but the panic of a few years ago was really stupid. Now they get to deal with the consequence of putting a lot of their eggs in one basket. They are working pretty hard on renewables, but it is a big hill to climb when you are trying to run an industrial economy. Maybe they should stop and think next time, panic may get you votes but then you may not want the job afterwards.

  10. jimmy on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 2:34 am 

    Not much chance of a tsunami in Berlin.

  11. Arthur on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 6:24 am 

    I was overreacting a few days ago, when commenting Merkel’s little exchange with Harper about Canada becoming the new supplier of Germany, replacing Russia. Now it turns out the Germans were simply making noise to appease Washington. They have zero intention of breaking ties with Moscow. Apart from the remarks made by Gabriel as referred to in the article, over the past few days the Germans also signed new gas contracts, worth billions, greatly increasing Germany’s dependence on Russia:

    Sorry about that,

  12. Makati1 on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 1:07 pm 

    The destruction of the petrodollar is under way and picking up speed….

  13. Davy, Hermann, MO on Mon, 31st Mar 2014 1:14 pm 

    Hey, Maki, explain. I would like to see some evidence. It is easy to bark. Do you even understand what a petro dollar environment is? I am not sure.

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