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What a Russian energy import ban would mean

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Berlin (AP) – Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) has warned of a Russian energy import ban.

If you stopped all energy imports overnight, “that would mean we would no longer have electricity or heat in a few weeks,” says the green politician. “How many days could we sustain that people can no longer drive to work, that we no longer have electricity in kindergartens, that we can no longer keep hospitals running?” However, the scenario Baerbock warns about is highly unlikely.

Could there be a ban on Russian energy imports?

That could happen sooner or later. Either because Russia is stopping exports to Germany and the European Union, or because the EU states want to punish the Russian leadership around President Vladimir Putin in his campaign against Ukraine. However, the federal government is still resisting a European energy embargo because Germany is particularly dependent on Russian energy.

How much energy does Germany get from Russia?

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the share of Russian imports in Germany’s fossil gas imports is about 55 percent, coal about 50 percent, and crude oil imports about 35 percent. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics on Friday, German gas storage facilities are a quarter full. This status is “not good” but not “worrying” either. Security of supply is guaranteed. “We will get through this winter,” promises Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), who was a guest in Kiel on Friday.

Could there be delivery bottlenecks?

That is extremely unlikely. On the one hand, Habeck makes it clear over and over again that the energy supply is secure for the last cold weeks of this winter. Rather, he is worried about the upcoming winter.

If there really were bottlenecks, the gas emergency plan would be activated. Gas is particularly important for heat supply. According to the plan, “specially protected customers” are private consumers and particularly important infrastructure, which also includes the health system and educational institutions, that is, the hospitals and kindergartens that Baerbock speaks of. To secure its supply, industry supply would have to recede. Habeck warns that this would hit the German economy hard.

And the electricity?

Unlike the heating sector, this problem does not exist at all because Germany does not depend on Russian imports. The Federal Republic even exports electricity.

What is the federal government doing about addiction?

The federal government used state funds and political talk to make sure gas storage facilities, which were at a low level, did not sit completely empty, says Economy Minister Habeck. “Coal reserves in power plants also last until the summer.” The companies also signed new supply contracts. “Each passing day makes us a little less dependent on Russian imports of oil and coal, and we are also in the process of supporting gas supply contracts, so that we can get more gas through LNG.” Germany is planning its own LNG (liquefied petroleum gas) terminals in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven. In the long term, the government wants to massively boost the expansion of renewables, but that won’t help next winter.

What about prices?

They are already increasing and should continue to do so. If gas imports from Russia were stopped, for example, gas prices would continue to rise, said energy expert Malte Küper of the German Economic Institute (IW) at the German Press Agency. “That would mean that many companies would have to close their production for economic reasons.”

A spokesman for the Federal Association of Power and Water Industries (BDEW) said: “Although households and social institutions are among the particularly protected customers, an embargo on Russia’s energy supply would have massive negative effects, for example, in energy prices for consumers » The energy industry is working flat out to substitute quantities of energy from Russia in the short term and to become independent from fossil raw materials and thus also from Russian imports in the medium and long term.

To counter this, the federal government has already decided on initial relief for citizens, with more likely to follow. “Of course we have to prevent people from falling into poverty, companies from going under, people not being able to pay their energy bills anymore,” says Habeck, who promised “targeted relief.” The government will watch the development and then decide on it.

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