Conversion of energy sources: where Germany now gets its gas & More Latest news here

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Status: 08/23/2022 14:04

Germany is buying much less natural gas from Russia than six months ago. Another country is now the largest supplier. Where does gas come from today – and what will it look like in the future?

By Notker Blechner, tagesschau.de

Whether it’s Norway, Qatar, Israel or the Netherlands, German politicians, especially Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, and German energy officials are on a “shopping tour”. ” since weeks. They are desperately looking for alternative energy suppliers to cover the still high gas demand and replace Russian natural gas. In the energy crisis, the federal government wants to spend several billion euros to compensate as much as possible for the negative consequences of the sharp reduction in Russian gas supplies.

According to the “Third Energy Security Progress Report” at the end of June, 26% of the natural gas imported by Germany came from Russia. Due to the multi-day maintenance of Nord Stream 1 and the recent gas throttling, the share even fell to less than 10%. Before the war in Ukraine, it was more than 50%. Lost Russian volumes have recently been compensated by higher delivery volumes from Norway and the Netherlands.

Norway supplies far more gas than Russia

According to the latest statistics, Norway has now replaced Russia as the biggest importer of German gas. In August, the share jumped to 38.3%. This is the result of figures from the Association of European Transmission System Operators for Gas ENTSOG and the Association of Transmission System Operators FNB.

Norway has increased its deliveries since the summer. “Norway now accounts for around 26% of European gas demand, filling the Russian gas void,” says Andreas Schröder, energy analyst at ICIS. Norway also delivers slightly more to Germany than before. “The share of all German gas imports was around 40% in July,” Schröder determined. “Norway is currently delivering to Europe as much as its production capacities allow,” explains Andreas Goldthau, energy security expert at the University of Erfurt.

Netherlands second German gas supplier

The third largest source of gas in Germany has so far been the Netherlands. According to ENTSOG, they represented 21.2% of local gas needs in June. In August – due to reduced volumes of Russian gas in Nord Stream 1 – the share increased further to 24.1%. This means that the Netherlands has become the second country of origin for German gas imports.

The Netherlands could theoretically increase production volumes in Groningen even further, according to expert Goldthau. However, this cannot (yet) be implemented politically, as there is great resistance among the population. What was once the world’s largest gas field in Groningen, near the German-Dutch border, is no longer expected to be exploited from autumn this year as there has been an increase in small earthquakes and damage to homes in the area after drilling. Due to the energy emergency, the government in The Hague extended the operation. The Groninger field is now expected to operate until at least October 2023.

Additionally, Germany also gets a small part of its natural gas from Belgium. However, natural gas imported through border crossing points often cannot be clearly attributed to each country of origin. The reason for this is the sometimes tight mesh of the European gas pipeline network, which means that types of natural gas from different origins mix, according to the Association of German Gas and Water Industries BDEW.

Only five percent of German gas is produced here

Hardly any gas comes from Germany itself. Domestic gas production has been drastically reduced – due to depleted supplies and increasingly complex approval procedures. In 2001 it was still 21%, now only 5% of gas consumption in Germany is subsidized in this country. It is currently being discussed whether and how the proportion can be increased. It is planned to operate a new field in the North Sea. However, the traffic light coalition in Berlin has spoken out against further exploration of the North Sea. The increased use of hydraulic fracturing recommended by some experts is also meeting resistance from politicians.

In the medium term, the greatest potential for new gas sources lies in LNG, liquefied natural gas which is transported by ship and refrigerated under high pressure. Until now, Germany has mainly imported LNG from the United States. “The United States has become the world’s largest exporter of LNG this year, and it has supplied Europe in particular,” says energy expert Hans-Werner Schiffer.

LNG Lighthouse of Hope

LNG deliveries will be significantly diversified in the future. Talks are underway with Qatar, Australia, Algeria and Nigeria. In the future, Germany could also source LNG from Canada. However, no quick fix can be expected here as there are still no LNG export terminals on the Canadian east coast. In the short term, however, about a third of Russia’s gas volume could be replaced by LNG with the help of other supplier countries, experts estimate. The liquid gas is to arrive via ports in the Netherlands and Belgium and then be injected into the natural gas network. It then arrives in Germany via the European gas pipeline network. “German gas imports from Belgium and the Netherlands are already largely regasified LNG from the seaports of Rotterdam and Zeebrugge,” says energy analyst Schröder. According to Schröder, Belgium and the Netherlands currently account for around 20% of German gas imports.

Germany does not yet have its own LNG terminals. But that should change soon. Two floating LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel are expected to be operational next winter. Other loading points are to follow.

Azerbaijan as a new gas supplier?

The EU is also working hard on new gas suppliers. The Brussels representatives held talks with the United States, Qatar, Norway, Algeria and Israel. Azerbaijan has pledged to increase shipments by 50%.

In the event of a gas crisis in Europe next winter, EU countries can support each other. The SOS regulation provides for possible bilateral solidarity agreements. So far, however, hardly any such agreement has been reached. Germany has only signed agreements with Denmark, an energy self-sufficient country, and with Austria. In view of the experiences of the Corona crisis, however, it is questionable whether the EU countries will really help each other in the crisis or whether each will ensure its own supply.

Other EU countries even less dependent on Russian gas

In fact, some EU countries have already become independent of Russian gas faster than Germany. Italy, for example, has gas supply agreements with Algeria, Qatar and Azerbaijan. As a result, the share of Russian gas imports fell to 21% of Italy’s energy needs.

Spain and Portugal are even better off, being largely independent of Russian gas and even supplying gas to other EU countries. Spain is playing an increasingly important role in the European LNG market. There are six LNG terminals on the Iberian Peninsula. France has also taken precautions. The “great nation” has three LNG terminals. Until now, France has imported most of its natural gas from Norway – via a direct pipeline from the North Sea to Dunkirk. Denmark and Sweden can largely source self-sufficient energy.

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