Poland ends Russian oil imports; Germany warns against gas

WARSAW, Poland (AFP) – Poland on Wednesday announced steps to end all Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, as Germany issued a warning about natural gas supplies and called on consumers to conserve energy in a sign of rising economic tensions in Europe over Russia. The war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland has already substantially reduced its dependence on Russian oil.

Morawiecki said at a press conference that Poland is launching the most radical plan among European countries to get rid of Russian energy sources.

Poland said on Tuesday it was banning imports of Russian coal. Morawiecki said he expects coal imports to end in May.

Morawiecki says Poland will take steps to become “independent” of Russian supplies and calls on other EU countries to “stay away” from Russian fossil fuels. Poland argues that money from oil and gas exports is fueling Russia’s war machine and that this must stop.

Morawiecki called on the European Commission to tax all hydrocarbons imported from Russia to make trade “fair”.

Poland is taking strides to reduce dependence on Russian gas. A liquid gas terminal has been built in Swinoujscie and is now being expanded, receiving shipments from Qatar, the United States, Norway and other exporters. A new pipeline on the Baltic Sea carrying gas from Norway is scheduled to open at the end of this year.

In Germany, the government issued an early warning about natural gas supplies and called on consumers to save energy amid concerns that Russia may cut off supplies unless it is paid in rubles..

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Western countries rejected Russia’s demand for payments in rublesUnder the pretext that it would undermine the sanctions imposed on Moscow because of the war in Ukraine.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the move was a precautionary measure because Russia, so far, is still honoring its contracts. But he appealed to companies and households in Germany to start reducing gas consumption.

“There have been several comments from the Russian side that if this does not happen (payments in rubles), then supplies will stop,” he told reporters in Berlin, adding that Moscow was expected to unveil new rules for gas payments on Thursday. “In order to prepare for this situation, today I turned on the early warning level.”

Habeck, who is also Germany’s energy minister and vice chancellor, said this was the first of the three warning levels and involved setting up a crisis team in his ministry that would step up monitoring of the gas supply situation.

The German energy industry association BDEW welcomed the government’s move.

“While there have been no shortages so far, it is essential that all involved have a clear roadmap in the event of a supply disruption,” said commission chairwoman Kirsten Andrea. “This means we need to make concrete preparations now for the emergency phases, because if there is a supply disruption, things have to happen quickly.”

The European Union has not yet reached the point of ratifying a comprehensive ban on energy imports from Russia. In addition to the fact that they depend on Russian fossil fuels to make their economies work, many member states and EU officials are concerned that the embargo could be counterproductive because Russia could sell its own oil production to third countries, potentially at a higher price. price.

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However, Germany, like other countries in the bloc, has taken steps in recent weeks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel supplies from Russia due to the war in Ukraine.

“On average, in Germany we have imported 55% of our gas from Russia in recent years, and this has already fallen to 40%,” Habeck said. Berlin has signed agreements with several supplies of LNG, which is shipped to neighboring European countries and then pumped to Germany.

Habeck said Germany’s gas storages are currently filled to about 25% of their capacity.

“The question of how long the gas will last mainly depends on several factors (such as) consumption and weather,” he said. “If there is too much heating, the storage facilities will be emptied.”

He added that Germany was ready for a sudden stop in Russian gas supplies, but warned that it would have “significant implications” and urged consumers to play their part in preventing shortages by reducing demand.

“We are in a position where I have to say this clearly, every kilowatt-hour of energy saved helps us,” Habek said. “That is why I would like to combine the release of the warning level with an appeal to companies and private consumers to help Germany, and to help Ukraine, by providing gas or energy as a whole.”

The second warning level requires companies operating in the gas industry to take measures to regulate supply. Habek said the third alert level entails full state intervention in the gas market to ensure that those most in need of gas – such as hospitals and private families – receive it.

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“We are not there and we do not want to go there,” he added.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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Frank Jordans reported from Berlin. Samuel Petriken in Brussels contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that Poland’s prime minister expects to end coal imports in May, not gas imports.

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