The measures taken by Germany's gas providers in order to secure supply are based on a broad package of measures. In addition to providing support for domestic producers, these measures include in particular:
- the diversification of supply sources and transmission routes
- stable relationships with supplier countries
- long-term gas supply contracts and
- a highly reliable supply infrastructure which includes underground storage facilities
Access to LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals is also increasingly important.
Diversification of foreign supply sources and transmission routes
In relative terms, Germany's gas supply is broadly diversified. An extensive system of pipelines is used to both import natural gas into Germany and to distribute it around the country.
Natural gas is transported from a number of Norwegian gas fields to Emden/Dornum via three pipelines (Norpipe, Europipe I and II), with a total capacity of 54 billion cubic metres.
Russian gas is transported via the Yamal-Europe pipeline (capacity of around 33 billion cubic metres, crossing the border at Mallnow) and the Ukrainian gas transmission system (capacity of approximately 120 billion cubic metres, crossing the border at Waidhaus/Sayda) to Germany and Western Europe. Construction and planning is already underway in order to further expand the system of pipelines for importing gas to Europe. This system also enables the Nord Stream pipeline to bring Russian gas directly from Russia. Both strands of the Nord Stream pipeline, each of which is 1,224 km in length, run from Portovaya Bay near Vyborg, across the Baltic Sea to Lubmin, near Greifswald, on the German coast. The first pipeline, with the capacity to carry up to 27.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas, was commissioned in November 2011. Completion of the second pipeline in October 2012 saw annual transmission capacity double to as much as 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Imports of natural gas from Russia to Europe via Ukraine have fallen following the commissioning of the Nord Stream pipeline. Only around 50 per cent of Russia's gas exports to Europe still come via Ukraine. The remaining 50 per cent is transmitted via the Nord Stream and Yamal pipelines. Russian imports account for approximately 35 per cent of Germany's natural gas requirement.
In addition to this, there are many pipeline connections with the Netherlands, including the Groningen gas field.
Future plans will focus on developing the Caspian region ("Southern Gas Corridor") as a new source of supply for Europe and, indirectly at least, for Germany too. From 2019 onwards, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline is set to carry gas with an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic metres from Azerbaijan to Europe.
Stable relationships with supplier countries/long-term gas supply contracts
Long-term contracts for importing gas give producers security as regards future sales volumes and are used as an instrument to finance the considerable investments required in exploration, production and infrastructure. For the countries importing gas, these contracts are a key component in securing supply in the long term. Some supply contracts have terms of 20 years and longer.
European Commission gas stress test
In order to analyse and draw conclusions from potential scenarios at European level involving a shortage in the natural gas supply, gas stress tests have been carried out in 38 European countries. The tests simulated two specific disruption scenarios: first, a complete halt of Russian gas imports to the EU; and second, a disruption of Russian gas imports through the Ukrainian transit route for a period of one or six months.
Natural gas storage facilities play an important role in balancing out the seasonal fluctuations in production and consumption, and in guaranteeing security of supply.
Germany's favourable geological conditions make it a good location for the construction of storage facilities.
At the end of 2013, Germany had 51 natural gas storage facilities in operation (21 pore storage facilities and 30 caverns). The maximum volume of usable working gas is currently 23.8 billion cubic metres. Germany has the largest natural gas storage capacity in the EU and the fourth largest in the world, after the United States, Russia and Ukraine. Statistically, the total storage capacity could, at present, supply the whole country for 80 days on average. This storage volume is set to be increased further over the next few years.
In November 2014, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy commissioned a study entitled "Possibilities to improve gas security and crisis prevention via regulation of storage (strategic reserve, storage obligations), including the costs and the economic effect on the market". The study is to be completed in May 2015 and is to serve as a basis for policy decisions on possible storage rules.
LNG - liquefied natural gas
Access to LNG terminals is also becoming increasingly important for Germany. LNG ("liquefied natural gas") is natural gas that has been converted into liquid form by cooling. Its low volume makes it particularly beneficial for transportation and storage. Worldwide, liquefied natural gas is playing an ever greater role and also presents an opportunity for German companies. Although Germany still does not have a reception terminal for LNG, access to LNG can theoretically be secured for the German market through its neighbours Belgium (Zeebrugge), the Netherlands (Rotterdam) or other European countries. German gas companies have acquired stakes in LNG terminals abroad and are planning to acquire further capacities (in Belgium, France and the Netherlands).
Monitoring security of supply
Pursuant to Section 51 subsection 1 of the Energy Industry Act (German version), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will monitor the security of the network-based supply of electricity and natural gas.