Germany ready to help landlocked EU states access LNG, Scholz says

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (L) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shake hands after a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 05 May 2022. [EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER]

Germany will show solidarity with European Union countries seeking alternatives to Russian gas and oil, for example helping eastern states without ports in the North or Baltic Seas access liquefied natural gas (LNG), Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday (5 May).

Speaking after meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Scholz said many countries faced an even bigger challenge than Germany in reducing reliance on Russian energy imports.

Russian gas imports that arrive via pipeline account for more than 90% of gas consumption in the Czech Republic, which is landlocked, Fiala said.

“We must be prepared to help countries that do not have direct access to the North or Baltic Sea and that must rely on us cooperating with them,” Scholz said, adding that the details had yet to be worked out.

Germany earlier on Thursday took steps to ramp up LNG imports, renting four floating storage and regasification units and choosing the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven as the first handling hub.

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Filling up storage

Separately, Germany started filling the huge Rehden gas storage facility abandoned by Russia’s Gazprom, the site’s state-appointed manager said on Thursday.

“From today, small volumes are being injected,” Egbert Laege, the trustee appointed by Germany’s energy regulator to temporarily manage the company, told Reuters in his first interview in the role.

“We are working intensively on solutions to ensure that already soon significantly more gas can flow into the storage facility.”

Rehden can hold around 4 billion cubic metres of gas but received only small amounts last winter. Laege said it was clear it needed to be filled for the coming winter.

Rehden is currently just 0.6% full, far below the 36% average for Germany’s gas storage facilities.

Gazprom last month ditched its Gazprom Germania business, including western Europe’s biggest gas storage site at Rehden, as diplomatic relations deteriorated due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russian gas is vital to Europe and Germany in particular. But supplies have been thrown into doubt by Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and a looming deadline set by Russia for payments in roubles, which most buyers have rejected.

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