BERLIN, March 29 — Uncertainties on energy markets and a tightening supply of natural gas before the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict led to high increases in energy prices at all stages of Germany’s economy in February, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Tuesday.
Prices for energy produced in Germany were up by 68.0 percent year-on-year, while prices for imported energy even soared 129.5 percent. Already, consumers had to pay 22.5 percent more for household energy and motor fuels than in February last year, according to Destatis.
The main reason for the “high increase in energy prices at the upstream economic levels” was the development of natural gas prices. According to Destatis, imported natural gas was three and a half times more expensive than last year.
The development of natural gas prices in 2020 and 2021 was also influenced by the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the following recovery. Uncertainties ahead of the Russia-Ukraine conflict exacerbated the already strained situation due to low gas storage in Germany, Destatis noted.
Last week, Germany’s lower house of parliament Bundestag approved a law amendment to oblige all operators in the country to gradually fill their gas storage facilities, according to the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).
“We have already been working since the end of last year to fill up the gas storage facilities in order to secure supply security and stabilize the storage levels,” said Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck. “But we also need to do more in terms of regulation for next winter.”
Germany’s governing parties last Thursday agreed on an extensive package of relief measures to cushion the energy price rises. A first package worth 15 billion euros (16.5 billion U.S. dollars) included a one-time heating allowance for low-income groups. (1 euro = 1.10 U.S. dollars) – XINHUA