Speculation of Rationing As German Minister Prepares Emergency Measures Over Gas Supply

German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck gives a statement after

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has declared an early warning level over Russian gas supplies that has led some to speculate the government could end up rationing gas.

Economy Minister Habeck, a member of the Greens, declared an early warning level on Wednesday as part of a three-stage emergency gas plan that could eventually see the state step in and intervene in the energy market and possibly even ration supplies of gas.

“There are currently no supply bottlenecks,” Hackeck said but added, “Nevertheless, we must increase the precautionary measures in order to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia,” the German tabloid Bild reports.

According to the newspaper, the emergency plan consists of three stages. The first is simply a warning level that includes no state action. The second, the alarm level, would also not see state intervention but the third level, Emergency, could see “non-market measures” used by the government to limit and distribute gas supply.

The move comes after the Russian government demanded that “unfriendly” countries pay for natural gas and other energy commodities in Russian rubles, which was rejected by the G7 countries earlier this week.

“I made the decision to implement within the shortest possible time the package of measures to transfer payments — we will start with that — for our natural gas supplied to the so-called ‘unfriendly’ states to Russian rubles,” President Putin said last week in response to sanctions levied against Russia over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Commenting on Putin’s demands, Minister Habeck said Wednesday, “Putin is trying to break the sanctions again via a ruble demand. This was prevented by a G7 decision a few days ago. We will not accept a breach of the private supply contracts and I am pleased that the companies see it the same way.”

Habeck added that German companies and consumers should reduce their energy consumption anyway saying, “We are in a situation where I have to say clearly that every kilowatt-hour of energy saved helps, and that is why I would like to combine the triggering of the early warning level for gas supplies with an appeal for help to companies and private consumers.”

“You are helping Germany, you are helping Ukraine, when you reduce your use of gas or energy in general,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Russian government also indicated that payments in rubles would not be required this week, despite setting a prior deadline for March 31st.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated Wednesday that the measure would not come into force Thursday as President Putin looks to hold a meeting with the Russian energy giant Gazprom on Thursday regarding the current state of affairs.

Germany is not the only country that relies on Russian energy supplies for a large section of its energy needs. Italy imports as much as half of its gas from Russia and gas is used to cover half of the country’s energy needs, leading to speculation that rationing could take place in Italy as well.


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