Russian gas: the concern of German industrialists // In Ivory Coast, German is popular! † Seen from Germany | DW

This is news that gives swimmers the chills: The water in public swimming pools is lowered by one or two degrees in certain cities. Blame “Putin’s war!”, outraged by the tabloid press.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has indeed exacerbated the already tense situation in the energy market. And it is therefore the price increases and the fear of gas shortages that prompt municipalities to take such measures.

But it is mainly industrialists who are alarmed by a possible reduction in the supply of Russian gas, especially sectors with high energy consumption, such as steel or glass. This is the case, for example, at the FWH Stahlguss steel foundry in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Steel and glass in the front line

Steel foundry Friedrich Wilhelms Hütte (FWH) in Mülheim an der Ruhr threatens to close due to supply failure

Metal elements for trains or bridges are manufactured in this iron and steel factory. The company’s president, Lars Steinheider, is categorical about the consequences of stopping gas supplies.

“A shutdown of the gas supply here in Mühlheim an der Ruhr would lead to an immediate cessation of activities.”

The needs are also enormous in the glass industry. Every day, eight million bottles and other containers pass through the chain of the manufacturer Wiegand in Bavaria.

The glass is liquefied at 1600 degrees in melting tanks. But if the heat is not maintained, the glass hardens, explains Nikolaus Wiegand, the company’s manager.

“The glass melting furnaces could no longer be operated and were likely to break. The heart of our industrial base would collapse.”

Melters are difficult to replace, the company would have to wait months for new ones. And according to Nikolaus Wiegand, this would be felt all over Germany as the company produces 25% of all glass bottles and containers, which is on the rise.

“It’s a 24-hour business. If production shuts down for a month, two months, three months, a year, two years, some products simply don’t get packaging.”

Listen again → Germany’s dependence on Russian gas (viewed from Germany on February 2, 2022)

Threat of recession

According to the Halle Institute for Economic Research IWH, a cut in supply would lead to a 2% drop in Germany’s economic performance. And a consequent rise in unemployment in industrial regions.

Because the share of Russian natural gas represents 65% of the consumption of German industry, which explains the reluctance of the government to shut down the gas tap itself in order to put pressure on Moscow.

That’s why Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck has been making more trips, in Europe and elsewhere, for weeks to find alternatives to Russian gas.

German liquefied natural gas terminals

The LNG terminal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Unlike the Netherlands, Germany does not yet have terminals for the processing of liquefied natural gas

One is liquefied natural gas, which could be supplied by Qatar and the United States. However, Germany currently has no terminals that can convert this gas, which arrives in liquid form, into a consumable product.

The construction of LNG terminals has therefore started urgently, as Robert Habeck noted a few days ago.

“The LNG terminals are being built at full speed. In fact, compared to the usual construction times in Germany, I’d almost say it’s going at the speed of light. We’ll see how long it takes, we’re not doing it “We have no experience with such rapid progress in construction. But yes, if they are there, it will secure some of the natural gas imports from Russia.”

Three billion euros is planned for the construction of LNG terminals to supply liquefied gas directly to Germany from next winter.

No wind turbine without gas

Wind farm off the coast of Germany in the North Sea

To build some parts of the wind turbines, you need steel and therefore gas

At the same time, the government wants to give an impulse to the development of renewable energy sources… And in particular to the development of wind energy. But here, too, we will not be able to do without gas in the near future, warns Lars Steinheider, the director of the steel foundry FWH Stahlguss.

“Each wind turbine, 5 megawatts offshore, counts for 100 tons of castings, machine supports, rotor hubs. Without these, it would not be possible to build new wind turbines”.

In addition to efforts to reduce dependence on Russian energy, the German government announced on Monday a reform of its Energy Security Act, a law passed at the time of the 1975 oil crisis.

Ensuring energy security

The reform should make it possible to place critical energy supply companies and infrastructures under public scrutiny or, if necessary, even expropriate them.

Europe's largest natural gas storage facility, located in Rehden, is operated by Astora GmbH, a subsidiary of Gazprom

Europe’s largest natural gas storage facility, located in Rehden, is operated by Astora GmbH, a subsidiary of Gazprom

Without mentioning them, these are the representations in Germany of the companies Gazprom and Rosneft that own most of the storage locations and the energy distribution channels.

Another novelty: a digital platform for managing natural gas consumption. Companies will have to register and indicate how much they need. The government could then favor essential sectors in times of crisis.

These measures will be implemented if the crisis worsens.

According to the Ministry of Economy, Germany’s dependence on Russian oil has already fallen, from 35% to 25% at the end of March. Berlin plans to be virtually independent by the end of the year.

European countries passed a ban on the import of Russian coal within four months. But the European Commission does not expect to be able to completely break out of its dependence on Russian oil and gas until the end of 2027.

Germanophilia in Ivory Coast

The Association of Germanists of Ivory Coast and its President Kouamé Bernardin (5th from left)

The Association of Germanists of Ivory Coast and its President Kouamé Bernardin (5th from left)

The German language is popular in Ivory Coast! It is the sub-Saharan African country with the most students of this language. Why ? Listen to the report of our correspondent Julien Adayé, who followed the first days of the German language, organized in Abidjan. And what could be more logical than starting with the national anthem of the Federal Republic, sung by a choir in German!

Seen from Germany, a weekly radio magazine, provided by Hugo Flotat-Talon and Anne Le Touzé, is broadcast on Wednesdays and Sundays at 5.30 pm, and also available as a podcast. Contributors to this issue: Fabian Dittmann (testimonials from manufacturers) and Julien Adayé (report in Abidjan). You will find all the songs in the media library, to listen online or to download in MP3 format. The podcast is also available on some podcast platforms.

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