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FDP chief rejects fuel price brake: Lindner for more North Sea oil and gas production – politics

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To reduce dependence on Russian energy imports, Federal Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner is proposing an immediate review of the coalition agreement, which previously prohibited new oil and gas drilling in the North and Baltic Seas. “We have to question the decision of the coalition agreement that we don’t want to continue extracting oil and gas in the North Sea,” Lindner said in an interview with Tagesspiegel (Sunday).

“Due to the evolution of world market prices, it seems that this is becoming cheaper.” Germany will continue to need oil and gas, at least during a transition period. “In view of the changed geopolitical context, I think it is advisable to examine the entire energy strategy of our country without prohibitions to think,” he called on the Greens to open up to expanding domestic oil and gas production and support new drilling permits.

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At the same time, other energy import sources are also needed. “Germany will continue to be an energy importing country. Self-sufficiency remains an illusion. We need other sources, i.e. hydrogen from southern Europe or Africa, synthetic fuels from South America, liquid gas through new terminals and better infrastructure connections within Europe,” Lindner stressed. “We have to do this at the speed of light. Energy prices are driving us.”

So far, manageable amounts have been financed

According to the Federal Association for Natural Gas, Oil and Geoenergy (BVEG), around 1.9 million tons of oil are extracted every year, mainly in the North Sea. In addition, about five billion cubic meters of gas. The year 1965 with 7.8 million tons of national oil production and 1999 with 21.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas have been the most profitable.

Most of the areas are in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, the proven oil reserves in Germany amount to about 17.9 million tons. Proven reserves of natural gas amount to 22,300 million cubic meters.

More about the war in Ukraine on Tagesspiegel Plus:

The amount of natural gas that has not yet been economically viable in Germany is estimated at 1.36 trillion cubic meters. Additional conventional oil resources amount to about 20 million tons. Since the federal government now wants to rely on many different solutions rather than one major provider, there could be some additional potential here.

Oil industry: can increase production in the North Sea, if politicians want it

“Increasing funding in Germany on a small scale is conceivable if politics, society and the authorities support our activities,” a BVEG spokeswoman emphasized when asked by Tagesspiegel. In Germany, around 96 million tons of crude oil and around 87 billion cubic meters of gas were consumed each year (figures for 2020). Germany imported 28 million tons of crude from Russia and 56.3 billion cubic meters of gas came from the country ruled by President Vladimir Putin.

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The oil platform in the Mittelplate in the North Sea – this is Germany’s largest production area to date.Photo: DPA

Lindner against the fuel price brake and the speed limit

Despite record prices at gas stations, Lindner continues to reject a temporary reduction in VAT from 19 to 7 percent for gasoline and diesel. “If the union demands a so-called fuel price brake, then they have to say what they want to cut in the budget,” Lindner told the Tagesspiegel. “Or they have to admit that they are willing to take on new debt. I would respect this clarity, but unfortunately the Union does not have the answers”, Lindner criticized the proposals of the largest opposition party in the Bundestag. “I can’t make it that easy for myself as Federal Minister of Finance.” Contrary to what many assume, the tax authorities will not get rich from rising fuel prices either. “If a higher proportion of a household’s disposable income is spent on fuel, there will be a change in VAT, but not an increase in income. Then people refrain from consuming elsewhere.”

Empty highways in the 1973 oil crisisPhoto: imago/ZUMA/Keystone

Parallels with the oil crisis 50 years ago

During the 1973/1974 oil crisis, the then social-liberal federal government, with the approval of the FDP, decided on four car-free Sundays and a six-monthly speed limit of 100 km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on other motorways. roads.

When asked about it, Lindner also rejected a temporary speed limit as a measure to reduce fuel consumption in the current price crisis. “In view of high fuel prices, there is a natural drive to consume less,” Lindner stressed that citizens could also take their foot off the gas. “We have a war in Europe that not only causes human suffering, but also massive supply risks. I have to leave the symbolic debates to others.”

Oil and gas boycott Russia? “I advise against it!

Despite corresponding demands from leading FDP politicians, Lindner continues to reject a general boycott of oil and gas in Russia. “Our goal must be to put maximum pressure on Russia while maintaining our strategic staying power for a long time. That is why we must not unnecessarily question the energy supply”, emphasized the Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor.

“We massively hit the Putin system with sanctions. In particular, the measures directed against the central bank have sent the Russian economy into a tailspin, devalued the ruble and pushed Russian government bonds to junk levels,” Lindner stressed. “We need to intensify such measures because they improve our position against Russia. Measures that weaken our position in the medium term: I advise against them”.

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