The federal government is preparing the energy industry behind the scenes that the second of three shortage levels of the gas emergency plan could be declared within a few days. However, the final decision is apparently still pending. This would have serious effects on the gas market:
The recently passed by the Bundestag Amendment of the Energy Security Act (EnSiG) allows very rapid price increases up to the current market level in the event of the “alert level” – while disregarding existing contracts (Background reported).
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In addition to the declaration of the second stage, the legal requirement is that the Federal Network Agency determine significant reductions in import volumes. This situation actually happened.
The right to immediately pass on high prices
The resulting right to pass on high prices almost immediately affects contracts with dealers, industry, commerce and private consumers alike. Many customers, but also intermediaries, are somewhat protected by long-term contracts and periods of notice and are currently confronted with the high price level only gradually and with a considerable delay.
The newspaper “World” reported last nightthat, according to the federal government, the industry should “assume” that the alarm level will be declared soon. With this announcement, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Patrick Graichen addressed the 55 members of the board of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).
The association said that committee meetings are generally not open to the public: “The BDEW therefore does not provide information about the course and content of such meetings and does not comment on speculation in this regard.” . We make decisions based on these specifications and do not speculate about them.”
Government circles: report correct, but decision not yet made
Several people from government circles confirmed the “world” representation in an interview with Tagesspiegel Background in the evening. The declaration of the alert level is actually being considered very seriously. A source stressed that, to their knowledge, a final decision had not yet been made. Another person, on the other hand, underlined that a lot points in the direction of tightening. The “Welt” wrote that Graichen had argued that the suppliers should prepare for the alarm level to be declared within five to ten days.
The situation on the gas market has been the throttling of the Russian gas flow last week even more tense than before. Gazprom had given technical reasons and sanctions for the lower deliveries through Nord Stream 1, but the federal government considers this explanation to be false. The situation report the Federal Network Agency yesterday showed further drastically reduced deliveries to Germany.
High prices without turbulence on gas markets
The BMWK can declare the alarm level on its own and is based on a catalog of criteria that cannot be precisely objectified. One of the points mentioned: A “high risk of long-term undersupply”. The fact that the situation on the trading venues has not escalated dramatically speaks against the declaration of the alert level. Gas for delivery in July cost 126 euros per megawatt hour in the Netherlands (TTF) last night.
That’s almost 50 euros more than a week ago, but at the beginning of March well over 200 euros had to be paid at times. The winter contracts are currently cheaper than the July delivery, so the markets are not anticipating any escalation in the cold spell.
The three stages of the emergency plan
Level one of the emergency plan (“early warning level”) was activated at the end of March and above all leads to a more precise observation of the situation. Stage two provides for even more stringent monitoring by the network operators and coordination with the European Commission.
More important: the long-distance gas pipeline operators intervene with a number of measures. The network is to be used as a buffer to compensate for fluctuations. The transport capacities should also be optimized in a targeted manner and external control energy can be requested. By far the most drastic measure – the rapid passing on of high prices according to EnSiG – has only recently been associated with this stage, as mentioned.
Level three (“emergency level”) is intended for the event that the price-based distribution through the markets de facto collapses due to extreme physical scarcity – the essence is that the Federal Network Agency as “federal load distributor” allocates gas sovereignly if necessary. (with dpa)