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Factbox-How much does Germany need Russian gas?

Factbox-How much does Germany need Russian gas?
Factbox-How much does Germany need Russian gas? Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
Published on Updated
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By Vera Eckert and Kate Abnett

FRANKFURT/BRUSSELS - Germany's gas supply has come into focus as high European prices, sparked by global tightness, were exacerbated by concerns the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline that is technically ready but needs regulatory approval may be delayed or scrapped.

The German government has indicated it would consider sanctions over the pipeline - which is intended to carry gas from Russia to Germany - if Russia invades Ukraine.

A suspension of the project would mean a chunk of Germany's expected future gas imports would not arrive, unless Russia instead stepped up its exports via a pipeline running from Yamal in Russia to Poland, or Ukraine, which may be unlikely in the event of a military conflict.

Here's the current state of play in Germany's gas sector.


Germany in Jan-Oct 2021 imported 119 billion cubic metres (bcm), said foreign trade statistics office BAFA, which does not identify the origins of the gas. Domestic gas usage was 100 bcm in 2021, utility industry group BDEW said.

Germany has 24 bcm of underground caverns of gas storage. A fifth of that is represented by Rehden, a unit owned by storage company Astora which is owned by Russian company Gazprom. As such, total storage capacity could meet a quarter of Germany's annual gas usage.

However, Germany's storage caverns currently stand at 45% full, down 9 percentage points from a year ago, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data.

Germany imports most of the gas it consumes, with domestic gas production peaking in the 1990s and now meeting only 5% of annual consumption.

The chief executive of German utility Uniper this week pegged Russia's share of Germany's gas supply at half, although this can fluctuate from month to month.

ICIS analysis data for German supply showed that in Dec. 2021 Russian pipeline gas accounted for 32%, Norwegian 20%, Dutch 12%, with storage 22% and the rest from other smaller sources including domestic production.

"Russia in its (gas supplier) role cannot be replaced during the next few years," Maubach said.


Gas burning accounted for 15.3% of German electricity generation last year, BDEW said.

Losing a large chunk of gas imports - from whatever source - could require a short-term increase in coal-fired generation at home or imports of power from neighbours to fill the gap.

The situation is more acute in home heating where gas keeps half of Germany's 41.5 million households warm and in manufacturing industries where sectors like ceramics cannot produce without the fuel.


Germany and Russia have had a strong energy supply partnership for decades. The partnership was struck during the Cold War and remained strong despite ups and downs in bilateral relations.

Germany does not need only gas from Russia. BAFA showed that 34% of Germany's crude oil came from Russia in Jan-Oct. 2021 and coal group VDKi said 53% of hard coal received by German power generators and steelmakers came from Russia last year.


Eventually it should, to comply with Germany's pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Heating with gas will be phased out long-term in favour of heat pumps and other alternatives.

But in power generation, gas use is expected to rise for a transition period under plans to phase out coal and nuclear energy.

Future consumption will depend on the speed of Germany's renewable energy rollout and whether low-emission hydrogen produced from renewable sources such as wind and solar can be harnessed to replace fossil gas.

The International Energy Agency has said countries' climate pledges would cut European gas demand to 504 bcm in 2030 from 596 bcm in 2020 although, going by governments' "stated policies", it would decrease only marginally to 587 bcm. It has no breakdown for individual countries.


The United States, due to overtake Qatar and Australia as top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter this year, has offered to send more gas to Germany if Nord Stream 2 is abandoned.

However, this would mean bolstering LNG infrastructure and result in more volatile gas supply and prices.

In Europe, LNG is received in Britain, along the northwestern European coast and in the Mediterranean, a still young and growing industry. The Dutch Gate landing terminal with 12 bcm handling capacity supplies western German customers in the absence of a domestic facility, which investors shunned when gas was abundant but environmentally unpopular.

Meanwhile Europe competes with Asian buyers to secure cargoes in global LNG markets.

As for pipeline gas, European utilities have rolling purchasing agreements with Russia for up to 30 years at a time with take-or-pay options and linked to agreed-upon benchmarks such as oil or spot prices at virtual European gas trading hubs.

Knowledge of when which contracts are renewed and at what terms is up to counterparties to publish and transparency can be scant.

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