He is the guardian over the German gas supply!
Klaus Müller (51), former Environment Minister in Schleswig-Holstein (for the Greens) and Consumer Protection President, has been President of the important Federal Network Agency since March. As such, he warns of possible bottlenecks and a tripling of gas prices next year.
BILD am SONNTAG: Mr. Müller, where do we stand today with the preparations for the winter?
Klaus Mueller: “The gas storage tanks are almost 65 percent full. That’s better than in the previous weeks, but still not enough to get through the winter without Russian gas. Nord Stream 1 maintenance work is scheduled to end on Thursday. Now a lot depends on whether and how much gas flows through the pipeline afterwards.”
How long would it take if supplies from Russia were stopped before gas became so expensive on the world market that you would allow the energy companies to pass the prices on to consumers?
Miller: “There hasn’t been a significant jump in prices this week, even though Nord Stream 1 was shut down. This could mean that the markets have already priced in the loss of Russian gas supplies and that we have reached a gas price plateau. It has not yet been decided whether these higher prices, which we owe to the Russian gas reduction, will have to be passed on in the short term.”
The first municipalities have already started to set up heating halls for the winter. Is that appropriate?
Miller: “We must not panic. Warming halls for needy people play no role in the plans of the Federal Network Agency.”
Nevertheless, people are afraid that the heating will be turned off in winter. Can you promise it won’t come to that?
Miller: “Private households have the least to worry about. They have been supplied with gas for the longest time, significantly longer than industry, for example. In addition, there is no scenario in which we are completely without gas. Even if Russia no longer supplies gas, we will still get some from Norway, Holland and Belgium or, in the future, from the German liquid gas terminals.”
What are the criteria used to decide who should have the gas cut off first in the event of a shortage?
Miller: “Should there be a gas emergency, we will have to carefully consider which companies will continue to be supplied and which will not. The main factor here is what damage would be caused by stopping the gas supply – economically, but also for the supply chains as a whole.
In addition, it can happen that only individual regions in Germany are affected by a gas shortage, for example because they are at the end of the gas network or have particularly high consumption.
(Editor’s note – What Müller does not say specifically: Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are far away from the gas feed-in and particularly strong in industry)
Should there be a ban on gas exports to other European countries?
Miller: “We have a duty of solidarity to our neighbors and would be well advised not to offend them. Just as we are currently benefiting from the liquid gas ports in Belgium and the Netherlands, we also have a duty to help our neighboring countries in an emergency to supply private households or hospitals.”
How many critical winters do we still have ahead of us?
Miller: “We will probably have to live with the threat of running out of gas for two winters. For the summer of 2024, the Federal Minister of Economics expects that we will then be independent of Russian gas. But it is also true that prices will probably not be as low as they used to be.”