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Energy Update: EU Ministers Oppose Capping Only Russian Gas

These translations are done via Google Translate
(Bloomberg) EU energy ministers won’t back any cap on the price of only Russian gas, according to diplomats, but they are pressing for the European Commission to come up with other ways of taming the price of imported gas.

Some ministers want a cap on all imported gas, and the idea of joint gas purchases is also being floated. There’s support for skimming off energy companies’ excess profits, and also for providing liquidity for traders caught with ballooning margin calls.

Gas prices, about eight times higher that their average levels for this time of the year, have been volatile this week as traders assess deep supply concerns against government efforts to contain the crisis. They dropped as much as 8.2% on Friday, wiping out a weekly gain.

Key Developments:

  • EU energy-crisis warnings worsen with need for immediate fix
  • Simson says extraordinary intervention is needed…
  • …while Czech Republic’s Sikela says there’s no time to waste
  • Trading in the euro is all about the energy crisis
  • Liz Truss’s target to make the UK a net energy exporter means big reversal

(All timestamps London.)

German Energy Lobby Questions Price Caps (12:10 p.m.)

Kerstin Andreae, the head of Germany’s largest energy lobby group BDEW, opposed price caps as they would “only cause further uncertainty” about investments in renewable energies. “Interventions in the energy market are highly risky and should only be done after careful considerations of the partly serious side or long-term effects,” she said. To support affected consumers, the lobby group recommends direct state supports.

She also warned that “acute market intervention in the current situation would be counter-productive and impede the return of power utilities.” Instead, she called for more production capacity and less use of fossil fuels.

German Power Network Costs Rise Sixfold (11:58 a.m.)

Amprion GmbH, Germany’s largest power grid operator, said its cost for redispatching — the day-to-day management of electricity flows and shortages — have jumped sixfold. Chief Executive Officer Hans-Juergen Brick also warned of a possible threefold rise in network fees that companies have to pay.

The transmission network fees also push up the costs of using local distribution networks, increasing the financial burden for smaller utilities and businesses. Large industry tends to be directly connected to the transmission network.

The four German transmission system operators will announce the new preliminary usage fees on 1. October.

Ministers Oppose Capping Only Russian Gas (11:44 a.m.)

EU ministers oppose taking measures to cap only the price of Russian gas, according to diplomats familiar with the talks.

Ministers also want steps on excess energy profits; and they all support measures to bring extra liquidity to energy markets straining under massive margin calls, the diplomats said.

Hungary Against Energy Price Cap (11:04 a.m.)

Hungary and the Czech Republic opposed a European Commission proposal to cap energy prices. “The price cap is a cloaked energy sanction,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a Facebook post, while attending a meeting of energy ministers in Brussels. “We’ve made it clear, we won’t even talk about energy sanctions.”

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said before the meeting that it wants to exclude the debate about an energy price cap from the agenda of the meeting altogether.

EU Scrutinizes Banks’ Readiness for Crisis (10:43 a.m.)

The European Central Bank is intensifying discussions with bank executives over their readiness for a potential surge in company defaults and a drying-up of energy-market liquidity.

The Frankfurt-based bank watchdog wrote to lenders last month, telling them to analyze the impact of a gas stoppage on their businesses, according to people familiar with the matter. Responses are due in mid-September, and follow-up conversations are to come by the end of this month, said the people.

No German Backing for Russia Gas-Price Cap (9:45 a.m.)

Germany doesn’t support a price cap on Russia gas because some countries are still dependent on those supplies, Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters in Brussels. “These countries still have dependencies which force them to use this gas,” he said. “So it would be inappropriate to say that Germany always calls for understanding, but other states don’t get any.”

Austria, which is still reliant on gas supplies from Moscow even though the dependence has eased, also doesn’t back a price limit, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler said.

Germany is also against a general cap on gas prices as it would send the wrong signal to the market, he said. Habeck supports a “price cap on basic energy needs,” but consumers would need to pay more when their use rises above a certain amount.

Poland Cold on Gas Solidarity Deal with Germany (9:15 a.m.)

Poland doesn’t see the need for a bilateral gas solidarity agreement with Germany, according to Climate Minister Anna Moskwa. Germany’s economy minister said earlier this week that neighboring Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland refuse to engage in “constructive negotiations” about such deals, a move that could exacerbate the gas crunch in Germany.

“Solutions that we have on the table for now are sufficient,” Moskwa said, referring to existing cooperation between Polish and German gas system operators. It’s obvious that if we have surpluses on our gas or power market we share them but based on our own national security and our national interest and not based on some forced mechanisms.”

Poland Calls for Quick Action (8:50 a.m.)

Current energy prices are not acceptable for all EU states and members need to react quickly to protect households and businesses, Poland’s Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said. Friday’s meeting of ministers will have no votes, but the discussions will be key for future decisions on what solutions to approve.

EnerStar Solutions

Ireland Says Energy Proposal Needed in Weeks (8:30 a.m.)

Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said the EU needs to deliver concrete ideas on how to deal with the energy crisis as soon as possible.

“The commission proposals have to be delivered within weeks not months,” Ryan told reporters in Brussels. “Doing nothing is not an option.”

He said the key, deliverable measures energy ministers will focus on will be capping revenue for low-cost electricity producers, a solidarity contribution from fossil fuel companies and reducing demand. He added that ministers will meet again to discuss other measures.

Also see: Europe’s Challenge to Survive Without Russian Gas in Five Charts

Energy Needs Extraordinary Intervention: Simson (8:22 a.m.)

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said she will will present ministers with five proposals. She said the European Commission needs to offer governments tools for addressing the current emergency. “This is not only about prices. Also about security of supply,” she said, adding the market needs extraordinary intervention. The EU is also planning to revive dialogue with Algeria on gas supply, she said.

More Than Half German Voters Want Nuclear Extension (8:00 a.m.)

More than half of German voters want Economy Minister Robert Habeck to keep the country’s three remaining nuclear power plants in operation beyond April to help secure energy supply, according to a poll published Friday.

Habeck, a member of the Greens party, announced this week that two of the plants would be kept in reserve until mid-April and the third would be shut down at the end of this year as planned, prompting widespread criticism. Less than a third of voters back the minister’s plan, the Sept. 6-8 poll of 1,299 voters for public broadcaster ZDF showed.

Also read: Germany’s Habeck Defends Move to Keep Nuclear Units in Reserve

Czech Minister Says No Time to Waste (7:57 a.m.)

Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said “there’s no time to lose” in reaching an agreement on EU-wide measures to tackle the bloc’s energy crisis. Sikela said he expects EU member states to agree on a direction on Friday, which they’ll pass onto the European Commission with a legislative proposal coming shortly thereafter.

“I expect the proposal in a few days and I want to have clarity at the end of the month,” he said. “I already see points where I’m pretty sure we will align”

He also said he’s “pretty sure” EU ministers meeting on Friday will align on liquidity measures to help ease the burden on the market. He also said he’s confident the group can reduce household energy prices.

Newest European Nuclear Reactor Boosts Output (7:55 a.m.)

Power output at Europe’s newest reactor exceeded a landmark 1,000 megawatts on Friday just as the power market needs all the supply it can get. Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 nuclear unit will provide much-needed supplies to the Nordic nation’s taut power system when it reaches the full 1,600 megawatt capacity later this autumn, after imports from Russia were cut completely in May. The Finnish grid has warned of rolling power cuts this winter as Europe faces its worst energy crisis in decades.

Germany’s Lindner Calls for Russia Oil-Price Cap (7:51 a.m.)

Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner says he’ll be “inviting all members of the EU to support the idea of an oil price cap.”

Speaking before an informal meeting of European Union finance chiefs in Prague, he said, “we want to avoid higher revenues for Russia” via that price limit. The Group of Seven last week announced plans to implement a price cap for global purchases of Russian oil — a measure it hopes will ease energy market pressures and slash Moscow’s overall revenues.

VNG Asks Germany for Help (7:50 a.m)

VNG AG, a subsidiary of EnBW, will submit an application for stabilization measures to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Friday, according to a statement. Measures are directed at absorbing the currently accumulating significant losses to replace natural gas and at enabling business operations to continue.

Effective Energy Action Can Prevent Recession (7:20 a.m.)

Europe can avoid recession if officials in charge of monetary and fiscal policy can agree on effective measures to tackle soaring energy costs, according to EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

“We have the chance, if we work together, monetary policy and fiscal policy, and with the right package on energy now, to avoid recession,” Gentiloni said before a meeting of EU finance ministers in Prague on Friday. “It’s a challenge, but it’s possible.”

Gas Prices Edge Lower (7:27 a.m.)

European gas futures slid, erasing the benchmark’s weekly gain. Prices have been volatile this week after Russia halted supplies on the Nord Stream pipeline indefinitely and markets weigh how effective EU measures to tackle price rises will be.

European gas futures head for another weekly decline

India May Keep Importing Coal (5:43 a.m.)

Utilities in India may need to continue coal imports to avoid any new squeeze on the nation’s energy sector, according to Power and Renewable Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh.

With stockpiles falling in recent weeks, power plants must act to maintain adequate inventories and import supply if needed — even though the nation’s longer-term policy is to limit purchases from overseas, he said in an interview. Coal accounts for about 70% of electricity generation in India.

Buying by India’s power firms could add to global competition for seaborne coal that’s already pushed benchmark prices to records.

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