RWE CEO Warns of Gas Supply Risks in Germany

(Reuters) — Germany must speed up construction of gas import infrastructure to avoid supply squeezes, the CEO of the country's largest utility told news outlet WirtschaftsWoche, adding the risk of soaring energy prices had not been fully contained.

Germany's gas caverns are entering the heating season with record levels of 96.55%, providing a solid basis for Europe's top economy for the winter and a much more comfortable position compared to a year ago.

In 2022, Germany struggled to fill its gas storage facilities after former key supplier Russia stopped supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline, causing fears there wouldn't be enough fuel to keep homes warm over winter.

In addition, Berlin has pushed the construction of terminals to import LNG as an alternative source of supply, efforts RWE boss Markus Krebber said were critical in making sure supply is safe.

"We don't have any buffer in the gas system," Krebber told WirtschaftsWoche. "If there is very cold winter or supply disruptions it can lead to very critical situations - and as a result to shortages and significantly higher prices."

Pending the provision of fixed terminals, Germany is using floating storage and reception units (FSRUs) to help replace Russian gas supplies.

Three FSRUs are working at the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuettel and Lubmin after Germany arranged their charter and onshore connections. Wilhelmshaven, Mukran and Stade are due to add more ships for the 2023/24 winter.

Krebber said there was a risk of delays and it was key for Berlin to keep pushing with the planned LNG infrastructure expansion.

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