Because of the war in Ukraine, alternatives to Russian gas and oil are being desperately sought. The federal government also wants to increase precautions in the event of gas shortages.
Self-production of natural gas in Germany increased a little last year – but this does not change the long-term trend of a decline for the time being.
The Lower Saxony State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG) essentially confirms data for 2021, which the raw materials industry announced at the end of March. Accordingly, the production of natural gas nationwide rose slightly last year by 0.8 percent to a total of around 5.7 billion cubic meters. Domestic oil production, on the other hand, fell by 4.7 percent compared to 2020 to a good 1.8 million tons.
In the future, liquid natural gas will come by ship
Almost all of the ongoing German natural gas production projects are located in Lower Saxony, and in the case of crude oil, a large part is in Schleswig-Holstein because of the Mittelplate North Sea field. Since the start of the Ukraine war at the end of February, a number of countries have been desperately looking for alternatives to Russian gas and oil, and dependency is still very high. In many cases, pipeline gas is to be replaced by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which can be transported to Europe by ship from the USA or Qatar, for example.
Funding volumes and projects have been declining in Germany for some time. In view of the discussions about energy security, the industry has recently brought itself back into play – at least smaller parts of an import gap could, according to them, be compensated. According to the Federal Association for Natural Gas, Oil and Geoenergy (BVEG), the volume of natural gas produced in Germany was even higher in 2019 at 6.1 billion cubic meters. It was said that 5 percent of German consumption could be secured in this way.
42.2 billion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves
The BVEG had spoken of a gas production volume of around 5.2 billion cubic meters for 2021. One reason for the deviation from the official data could be different qualities or calorific values of the gas mixtures, which primarily consist of methane.
The “sum of the certain and probable natural gas reserves” in Germany was given by the state office at 42.2 billion cubic meters – a drop of 2.3 percent compared to the previous year. In the case of crude oil, the decline was more than 16 percent to 22.9 million tons.
Federal government wants to increase precautions
The federal government wants to increase precautions in the event of a gas shortage if Russian supplies are stopped. To this end, a “gas replacement reserve” from decommissioned coal-fired power plants is to be set up until March 31, 2024. The cabinet approved the corresponding plans, as reported by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.
In the event of a gas shortage, coal or oil-fired power plants should be able to return to the market at short notice and on demand – in order to be able to significantly reduce gas consumption in power generation. According to the ministry, gas contributed 15 percent to electricity generation in 2021, but the proportion is likely to be lower in the first few months of 2022. In addition, in the event of a gas shortage, the federal government should be given the opportunity to quickly reduce the electricity generated by gas-fired power plants.