Germany nationalizes the country’s largest gas importer Uniper

BERLIN – The German government said on Wednesday that it had agreed to nationalize the country’s largest gas importer, Uniper, expanding state intervention in the industry to stem energy shortages. due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The deal with Uniper builds on a rescue package agreed in July and includes a capital raise of 8 billion euros ($) that the government will fund. As part of the deal, the government will acquire a 99% stake in Uniper, which has so far been controlled by Finland-based Fortum. The Finnish government has the largest stake in Fortum.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the deal was necessary because of Uniper’s importance in the German gas market. It still needs to be approved by the European Commission.

Uniper supplied about 40% of all gas customers in Germany, and before the war, Uniper bought about half of its gas from Russia.

The company’s losses increased as Russia cut natural gas supplies to European countries supporting Ukraine. Prices for the fuel needed to heat homes, generate electricity and power plants have soared, raising fears of business closures, rations and an economic downturn as the weather turns. cold.

European countries have scrambled to combat the price spiral and prioritize securing energy supplies for the winter, including filling their natural gas storages. Just last week, Germany also took control of three Russian-owned refineries before the embargo on Russian oil takes effect next year.

Habeck noted that Germany has managed to fill its gas storage facilities to more than 90% capacity in preparation for the winter heating season even though Russia has stopped supplying gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The wholesale price of gas has nearly halved since the summer, he said.

“This means that, overall, we have coped quite well with the situation,” Habeck said. “But for Uniper, the situation became more dramatic and significantly worse.”

Citing Uniper’s importance to the German gas market, Habeck said the government chose to nationalize the company “to ensure the security of supplies for Germany.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stressed that Germany has enough energy to weather the winter with enough energy, pointing out that new liquefied natural gas plants are expected to start operating in the coming months. to come, and many other things.

In a separate move last Friday, his government announced that German authorities were taking control of three Russian-owned oil refineries to ensure energy security. Two subsidiaries of Russian oil giant Rosneft are being placed under Mueller’s Federal Network Agency.

Rosneft accounts for about 12% of Germany’s refining capacity, importing several hundred million euros ($) worth of oil a month, according to the government, which has said the initial mandate will last for six months.

The network regulator was put in charge of Gazprom’s former German subsidiary in April, a decision the government deemed necessary to bring in “order to conditions” at the company after it Her mother, controlled by the Kremlin, abruptly cut ties with the unit.

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