April 1, 2023

BERLIN (AP) — The German government said Wednesday it has agreed to nationalize Uniper, the country’s largest natural gas importer, expanding state intervention in the industry to prevent energy shortages caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Uniper deal builds on a rescue package agreed in July and features an 8 billion-euro capital boost from the government. As part of the deal, the government will take a 99 percent stake in Uniper, which is currently controlled by Finland-based Fortum. The Finnish government owns the largest stake in Fortum.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the deal was necessary because Uniper plays an important role in the German gas market. It still needs to be approved by the European Commission.

Uniper supplies about 40 percent of Germany’s gas customers, and it bought about half of its gas from Russia before the war.

The company’s losses deepened as Russia cut gas supplies to European countries that back Ukraine. The price of the fuel needed to heat homes, generate electricity and power plants has soared, with fears of business closures, rationing and a recession intensifying as the weather turns colder.

read more: Europe relies on Russian gas.Tough winter looms amid fears of shutdowns

European countries scrambled to deal with a price spiral and prioritized securing their winter energy supplies, including filling their natural gas storage. Just last week, Germany took control of three Russian-owned refineries before an embargo on Russian oil goes into effect next year.

Habeck noted that while Russia has stopped sending gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Germany has managed to fill its gas storage facilities to more than 90% in preparation for the winter heating season. Wholesale prices for natural gas have almost halved since the summer, he said.

“It means that, as a whole, we have dealt with this situation very well,” Harbeck said. “But for Uniper, things got more dramatic and much worse.”

Citing Uniper’s importance to the German gas market, Habeck said the government chose to nationalize the company “to ensure security of supply in Germany”.

Chancellor Olaf Schultz insisted that Germany has enough energy to survive the winter, noting that new LNG terminals are expected to start work in the next few months, among other things.

In another move on Friday, his government announced that German authorities were taking control of three Russian-owned refineries to ensure energy security. Two subsidiaries of Russian oil giant Rosneft are being run by Mueller’s Federal Cyber ​​Agency.

Rosneft, which accounts for about 12 percent of Germany’s refining capacity, imports hundreds of millions of euros worth of oil each month, according to the government, which has said the hosting will initially last six months.

The cyber watchdog had taken charge of Gazprom’s former German subsidiary in April, a decision the government said was necessary to bring “order” to the company after the Kremlin-controlled parent company abruptly cut ties with the department .

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