Germany activated the “alarm stage,” phase two of three of the country’s emergency methane-based gas plans on Thursday after Russia’s Gazprom throttled deliveries by 60%. Phase three would allow the government to implement energy rationing. German economic minister Robert Habeck told reporters the cutbacks were a direct political attack in retaliation for Germany’s sanctions against Russia and military support for Ukraine.
“Even if you don’t feel it yet: We are in a gas crisis,” he said. “Winter will come.” European gas prices rose, once again, in reaction to the news. Habeck warned this could have a “Lehman Brothers effect,” explaining “[t]he whole market is in danger of collapsing at some point.”
The ripple effects of limited gas supplies and skyrocketing European gas prices, exacerbated by the explosion at the Freeport LNG plant in Texas earlier this month, are getting more severe across the globe. Pakistan faces blackouts as prohibitively expensive gas prices have forced the country, heading into its hottest months, to decline purchases three times in June. Down under, the Australian gas market is in disarray as suppliers scramble to secure gas to meet winter demands. Amid all of this, China is increasing its purchasing of methane gas from Russia, tying the two countries’ fortunes closer together. (German emergency plan: Reuters, New York Times $, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters Factbox; Lehman Brothers: Fortune; Euro ripple effects: Bloomberg $, Reuters, Bloomberg $, Reuters; Freeport explosion: Reuters; Pakistan: Bloomberg $; Australia: Reuters; China: Wall Street Journal $)