Berlin will not be able to replace Russian gas with LNG this winter if Moscow cuts supplies, Bild warns citing experts
There is a huge question mark hanging over the German government's plan to replace Russian gas with liquefied natural gas (LNG) if Moscow cuts supplies, Bild has reported. According to the newspaper, the country could be in for a "gigantic gas crisis" this winter.
In its article on Wednesday, the German daily quoted Brandenburg region's economy minister, Jorg Steinbach as saying it's "pretty much certain" that Russia will not relaunch gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after maintenance work is finished. The report noted that Germany's economy ministry acknowledged that the "situation is serious," with officials adding that they "cannot speculate as to what Russia subsequently decides."
Bavaria's governor, Markus Soder, is already speaking of a "full rationing of gas," according to Bild.
Anticipating such an emergency scenario, the country's economy minister, Robert Habeck had previously devised a plan, under which Russian gas should be replaced, at least partially, by LNG delivered by ship.
However, according to Bild citing several experts, there might simply be not enough tankers out there to satisfy Germany's gas needs.
Martin Kroger from the Ship-owner Association told journalists that "there are no gas-tankers in the German commercial fleet that can transport LNG over long distances." Kroger went on to explain that "there are a total of almost 500 LNG-tankers available globally, though the demand is high in other regions" as well.
These concerns are shared by researcher Andreas Fischer from the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, who is quoted by Bild as saying "there have to be liquid gas quantities on the global market and it takes appropriate tankers." Such vessels are, however, "for the most part already bound in long-term contracts," Fischer pointed out, adding that "only one out of the three planned [LNG] terminals" in Germany has been given the green light so far.
The country's economy ministry, too, conceded that it did not have a clear figure of how many LNG-tankers Berlin could bank on to haul gas to the country.
The Christian-Democratic opposition tore into Habeck's plan, claiming that it has already all but failed. To cushion any shortage, the conservatives are calling for gas reservoirs to be filled up swiftly as well as for coal power plants to be re-launched.
On top of that, the CSU party is advocating a price cap for households, warning that "many people in Germany won't be able to pay the rising gas prices in the coming months," unless a curb is imposed.