July 7, 2022

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Germany warned residents and businesses on Thursday that the country was in a natural gas crisis that could worsen in coming months.

“The situation is serious, and winter will come,” Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister, told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. He said the government had triggered the second stage of its three-step energy gas plan; the next stage would permit the government to begin gas rationing.

“Even if you don’t feel it yet: We are in a gas crisis,” he said. “Gas is a scarce commodity from now on. Prices are already high, and we have to be prepared for further increases. This will affect industrial production and become a big burden for many consumers.”

Last week, Russian’s state energy giant, Gazprom, reduced the amount of natural gas it was delivering to Germany by 60 percent, in what appeared to be the latest move to punish Europe for sanctions and military support for Ukraine.

Gazprom has pinned blame for the reductions on a turbine for a compressor station that was sent to Canada for repairs and has not been returned because of sanctions. But Mr. Habeck called Gazprom’s cutbacks a deliberate economic attack by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“It is obviously Putin’s strategy to create insecurity, drive up prices and divide us as a society,” he said.

The recent developments have created concerns that the gas crisis is gaining dangerous momentum that could have unforeseen consequences for the wider economy, and that governments are not moving fast enough to stop it.

“We are one step away from the rationing of gas across Europe, which would impact many sectors, businesses and consumers,” said Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank. Policymakers seem to have found themselves unable to act quickly enough given the speed of events.”

Mr. Borkhataria said Russia’s…

The New York Times

2022-06-23 15:02:31

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