Germany could be independent of Russian oil by end of summer, minister says

Germany says it is making progress in weaning off Russian fossil fuels and expects to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the summer.

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said on Sunday that Europe’s biggest economy had reduced the share of Russian energy imports to 12% for oil, 8% for coal and 35% for natural gas. Germany has come under heavy pressure from Ukraine and other countries in Europe to cut energy imports from Russia that are worth billions of euros, helping fill the treasury of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

“All these measures that we are taking require a huge joint effort from all players and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers,” Habeck said in a statement. “But they are necessary if we don’t want to be blackmailed by Russia anymore. »

The announcement comes as the whole of the European Union considers an embargo on Russian oil following a decision to ban imports of Russian coal from August. The bloc pays Russia US$850 million a day for oil and natural gas and Germany is one of its main importers of Russian energy.

Germany managed to switch to oil and coal imports from other countries in a relatively short time, meaning that “the end of dependence on Russian crude oil imports by the end of the summer is realistic,” Habeck’s ministry said.

German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck in Berlin on April 6. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)

Weaning Germany from Russian natural gas is a much bigger challenge.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Germany obtained more than half of its natural gas imports from Russia. That share has now fallen to 35%, partly due to increased purchases from Norway and the Netherlands, the ministry said.

To further reduce Russian imports, Germany plans to speed up the construction of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, terminals. The Ministry of Energy and Climate said Germany aims to commission several floating LNG terminals as early as this year or next. This is an ambitious timeline that, according to the ministry, “requires a huge commitment from everyone involved.”

Germany has resisted calls for an EU boycott of Russian natural gas. He also watched with concern last week as Moscow immediately cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after rejecting Russian demands to pay for the gas in roubles. European officials called these moves by Russia “energy blackmail.”

Germany’s central bank said a complete cut off of Russian gas could mean five percentage points of lost economic output and higher inflation.

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