German levy only response to "artificial" shortages, says Habeck
Germany's Robert Habeck has confirmed a 2.4 cents/KWh levy will be charged to domestic gas consumers from October 1st, blaming the "artificial" gas supply shortage at Nord Stream 1 for a step that should ease pressure on German utilities stung by Gazprom's curtailments.
The economy minister's announcement August 15 comes as there is no end in sight to the problems affecting the 55bn m3/year Nord Stream route, Germany's main piped gas supply. Berlin says Gazprom's excuse, which cites technical problems at a key compressor station, has proven false after it failed to accept delivery of a crucial turbine said to be responsible.
In a press statement, Habeck said: "The reason for the surcharge was artificially created by Russia. For example, the gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline were reduced without reliable technical reasons.
"Gas import companies now have to procure a replacement on the so-called spot market at much higher prices than agreed, so that private households and the economy can continue to be supplied with sufficient gas."
The gas supply surcharge will remain in force until April 1, 2024, but can be increased or decreased at three month intervals, depending on the actual cost estimate for German gas imports. These estimates will be determined by Trading Hub Europe, the appointed market regulator, and then verified by independent auditors.
Gas importers can claim revenue from the surcharge to cover 90% of what they paid to replace undelivered Russian gas with spot volumes, though only quantities "guaranteed in inventory contracts" which relate to Russian gas deliveries.
Habeck's department says claims for Russian gas substitutions have been submitted by 12 importers already. These claims against the gas levy are costed at €34bn through to April 2024, corresponding to 90% of Berlin's full revenue projection.