German steelmakers warn against Russian gas embargo

While essentially supporting the economic sanctions that have been introduced against Russia, Germany’s steel industry explicitly warns against the consequences of an embargo on Russian natural gas, Kallanish notes.

“Without natural gas from Russia, steel production would not be possible at present,” industry federation WV Stahl said in a position paper issued last week. “An import ban on natural gas supplies from Russia without secured alternatives would expose companies in the steel industry to the risk of forced shutdowns,” warns WV Stahl president Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff.

An immediate Russian gas import ban would not only lead to production stoppages in the steel industry, but also to the collapse of industrial production in Germany and the EU, WV Stahl says. The German steel industry consumes about 2.1 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually. The nation’s industry overall consumes a total of 38 billion cubic metres. The gas is used as a fuel for temperature generation and as a reducing agent in various steps of pig iron and steel production and further processing.

WV Stahl adds that the steel industry stands behind “the responsible policy of economy minister Robert Habeck not to jeopardise security of supply with a delivery ban”.

Meanwhile, the minister has already been exploring alternative forms and sources of energy by visiting several Middle Eastern nations. One result was a long-term supply deal for liquid natural gas from Qatar. Critics note that this is a switch of dependence from one autocratic regime to another.

A factor not mentioned in WV Stahl’s statement is the double pipeline set Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. The second line, especially, has been a political bone of contention in recent years, receiving major criticism from Eastern European countries that found sympathisers among German policymakers. Nord Stream 2 was of the biggest steel consumers of the last decade, with more than 2 million tonnes of pipe supplied mainly from Germany’s Europipe and Russia’s OMK.

Construction of the second line has been completed, but it now seems it will not go on stream at all.

Unlike Nord Stream 2, which is owned by Gazprom alone, Nord Stream owner Nord Stream AG is a joint venture of Eon, Gasunie, Engie, Wintershall and Gazprom.

Christian Koehl Germany