The natural gas supply in Germany is largely secure and reliable. This is especially true for supply to private residential customers who are afforded special protection under EU and national law. However, as is the case in every other energy sector, the need for intervention by the competent authorities in the event of a serious deterioration in supply, in addition to market measures (i. e. measures for which businesses themselves are responsible), cannot be ruled out completely. Even though the likelihood of such a severe crisis in supply actually occurring is very small, precautionary measures have to be taken for such an event so as to ensure not only the necessary cooperation between all involved parties but also the availability of the relevant measures.
Against this background, Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supply and repealing Council Directive 2004/67/EC ("SoS Regulation") provides for an extensive range of instruments designed to strengthen the internal gas market and to take precautionary measures for the event of a supply crisis. To this end, the requisite national framework conditions and the rights to establish or modify a legal relationship which apply to businesses and authorities are firmly established in the legal frameworks pertaining to Germany, most notably in the Energy Industry Act, the Energy Security of Supply Act (1975) and the Ordinance to Ensure the Supply of Gas in a Supply Crisis.
In the European Union, security of gas supply is a shared responsibility of natural gas undertakings, Member States, notably through their competent authorities, and the European Commission (EU-COM) within their respective areas of activities and competence. This shared responsibility requires a concerted exchange of information and cooperation between stakeholders.
When a crisis in supply occurs, the SoS Regulation essentially distinguishes between three crisis levels (early warning level, alert level and emergency level). The Regulation provides for market measures on the part of gas companies under the first two levels as well as for opportunities for top-down intervention - as a supplementary measure - only in emergencies. In this regard, it sets out the areas of competence and duties of undertakings, national authorities and the European Commission and calls on Member States to set out in advance, and within the framework of Preventive and Emergency Action Plans, how they envisage managing a crisis as well as the preventive measures they will take. The competent authority for ensuring the aforementioned measures is the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Responsibility for regularly establishing and updating the risk assessment with regard to security of the natural gas supply in Germany has been transferred to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA).
As provided in the SoS Regulation, the plans were updated in December 2014.