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Gas shortage emergency would push Hamburg to ration hot water, says senator

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By Euronews  with Reuters
German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck shows a graph featuring forecasts of gas storage levels
German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck shows a graph featuring forecasts of gas storage levels   -   Copyright  Credit: AFP

The north German city of Hamburg will ration hot water and limit heating temperatures in the event of a gas emergency, its environment senator has said. 

The major port, home to nearly two million people, will ration hot water in homes and limit maximum heating temperatures if there are gas shortages, announced Hamburg Senator for the Environment Jens Kerstan. 

"In an acute gas shortage, warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day in an emergency," Kersten told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, adding that the city was considering a general reduction of maximum room temperatures. 

Germany's government is asking citizens and companies to cut back on energy use and help them fill up gas storage facilities before winter, over concerns surrounding Russian gas imports.  

In June, Germany moved to stage two of its three-tier emergency gas plan after Russia reduced deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 

Stage two, called the Alarm Phase, is where there is a "significant deterioration" of gas supplies in Germany. 

According to Hamburg's federal emergency plan, homes and critical institutions, such as hospitals, will be prioritised over industry in the third, emergency stage, which is where the government steps in to ration fuel. 

Yet, this might not be possible in Hamburg as "technical reasons" make it difficult to distinguish between commercial and private customers, according to Kerstan.

He added that a possible temporary liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Hamburg could not be operational until next May at the earliest. 

"In the course of July we will know whether and at which location a temporary LNG terminal in Hamburg is feasible," said Kerstan. 

Germany has rushed to find alternative gas routes and supplies of LNG, as tensions between the West and Russia have heated up since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Western sanctions on Russian energy, as well as Russia reducing its energy exports to Europe, have limited supplies to the continent and put pressure on prices. 

The country's first two temporary LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuettel should be put into operation at the end of this year, Welt am Sonntag reported, citing the economy ministry.

Russia is Germany's top gas supplier, providing Europe's largest economy with just under a third of its gas, according to Reuters.