German energy sector says supply safe despite Crimea crisis

Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:28am EDT

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DUESSELDORF, Germany, March 25 (Reuters) - Germany's energy sector does not expect gas supply bottlenecks or higher power prices as a result of the Ukraine crisis, the head of industry group BDEW said.

"We have no reason to assume that Russia won't meet its obligations," Hildegard Mueller, BDEW's managing director, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, adding Russia had always honoured its contracts, even in politically tense times.

In a bid to ease concerns, Mueller also said that Germany's 51 gas storage tanks were currently well stocked, partly due to a mild winter, and added there were no indications that this would change by the end of the year.

Europe's biggest economy is heavily reliant on Russian gas, which accounted for about a third of gas imports to Germany last year, BDEW figures show.

Germany's top utilities E.ON and RWE receive most of their gas from Russia's Gazprom.

Russia's seizure of the Crimea region and its threat to cut off gas to Ukraine, a transit route to the rest of Europe, has led European leaders to consider strategies to curb the bloc's energy reliance on Russia.

Germany's other gas suppliers include Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and Denmark, as well as local sources, said Mueller, whose BDEW represents over 1,800 companies active in the provision of power, gas, water and heat.

She said the current political spat had no impact on Germany's plans to fully abandon nuclear power by 2022, a decision made following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant in March 2011.

"I currently see no need at all to start a fresh discussion about the nuclear exit in Germany. The energy sector stands behind the energy shift," Mueller said.

Along with its decision to shut down all atomic plants, Germany has also accelerated its expansion in renewable energy sources, most notably wind and solar, hurting gas and coal plants, some of which have been mothballed in the process. (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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