German minister criticizes U.S. over ‘astronomical’ natural gas prices

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A photo of a natural gas flare burning near an oil pump connection at the New Harmony Oil Field in the US on June 19, 2022.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Germany’s economy minister accused the US and other “friendly” gas-supplying states of astronomical prices for their supplies, suggesting they were taking advantage of the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

“Some countries, including friendly ones, sometimes fetch astronomical prices [for their gas]. That, of course, brings problems that we need to talk about,” Economics Minister Robert Habeck told the regional German newspaper NOZ in an interview published on Wednesday and translated by NBC News. He called for more solidarity from the US if it’s about aid. are energy-focused allies in Europe.

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“The United States contacted us when oil prices rose, and as a result, national oil reserves in Europe were tapped. I think such solidarity would also be good for cutting gas prices,” he said.

CNBC has contacted the White House for a response to the comments and is awaiting a response.

Habeck, the co-leader of the German Green Party, which is part of the Berlin coalition government led by center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said the EU should also do more to tackle the region’s gas crisis, with countries seeking alternative supplies has put even more pressure on prices caused by the war in Ukraine and deteriorating relations with Russia.

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Moscow state-owned gas giant Gazprom has drastically reduced supplies to the bloc in recent months, largely due to international sanctions and a desire to punish Europe. The EU used to import about 45% of its gas supplies from Russia, but is trying to stop all imports — for backing Kiev.

Habeck said the EU should “bundle its market power and orchestrate smart and synchronized buying behavior of EU countries so that individual EU countries do not outbid each other and drive up global market prices.”

European market power is “enormous,” it just has to be used, he noted, according to the German news channel.

Europe is facing a harsh winter with predicted gas shortages across the region. Countries like Germany have been largely dependent on Russia’s gas supply for decades with massive energy infrastructure, such as the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, designed to bring gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

Although the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never launched, and Germany refused to certify the pipeline after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Nord Stream 1 has become a pawn in deteriorating relations between Moscow and Brussels.

In the summer, gas supply through the pipeline stopped and started apparently at Moscow’s whim, though it invariably cited the need for maintenance and sanctions as the reason for the cessation of supplies. But then the supply stopped in September.

More recently, Russia and Europe’s energy ties have been literally damaged as the Nord Stream pipelines leaked under suspicious circumstances last month.

Russia denied it had sabotaged the pipelines, with reported underwater explosions damaging the pipes in several places, spewing natural gas from the Baltic Sea. The damage sparked an international outcry with the EU pledging to deliver a “robust” response to attacks on its energy infrastructure.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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