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German government should have more say over gas reserves, minister says

01/21/2022 | 04:03am

FRANKFURT, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The German government should have more influence over gas reserves, Economy Minister Robert Habeck was quoted as saying on Friday, amid tensions with major supplier Russia.

Options for the state to intervene in both boosting storage and withdrawals are currently legally very limited, Habeck told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview.

"This is unsatisfactory and the last word has not been spoken," he said.

Sky-high European gas prices have received a further boost from concerns Russia might invade neighbour Ukraine, potentially prompting Western sanctions and disrupting gas supplies.

High prices and low gas stocks have also stoked fears that industry and households could run short, or pay over the odds, for supplies this winter.

Germany's 24 billion cubic metres of gas storage capacity equates to around a quarter of annual domestic consumption, but inventories currently stand at just 45%, down 9% from a year ago, GIE industry group data shows.

Habeck said the government should do more to protect supplies ahead of next winter.

"I see a political task in that," he said.

The storage industry is privately organised but handling fees for storage services are regulated. Russia's Gazprom owns a number of sites in Germany and Austria.

Habeck also said Germany would not have to pay compensation if its regulator decided the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline into Germany was not in compliance with German and European Union laws. (Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Mark Potter)

© Reuters 2022
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