German minister heads to UAE as Ukraine crisis stokes fears of gas shortages next winter

The nation relies heavily on Russian gas

German Minister of Economics and Climate Protection Robert Habeck leaves the podium after delivering a speech during a session of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin on March 17, 2022. AFP
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Germany, which relies heavily on Russian gas, gave a warning on Saturday that it has major concerns about securing supplies for next winter as ministers headed to the UAE for energy talks.

Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck said the government is doing all it can to secure alternatives.

"If we do not obtain more gas next winter and if deliveries from Russia were to be cut then we would not have enough gas to heat all our houses and keep all our industry going," he said.

Supplies are "not yet completely guaranteed", Mr Habeck told Deutschlandfunk radio.

He added that the government of Europe's largest economy was preparing for the possibility of shortages "which we hope can be avoided."

On Saturday Mr Habeck was due to travel to Qatar, one of the world's three largest exporters of liquefied natural gas, which European states are increasingly counting on as a means of weaning themselves off Russian gas after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Later he was expected to travel to the UAE.

Half of Germany's LNG imports come from Russia.

Mr Habeck, also minister for climate affairs, has already recently visited Norway, as well as current top global exporter the US.

Germany has faced criticism over its opposition to an immediate embargo being imposed on Russian energy supplies as a means of choking off a major source of Moscow's foreign earnings.

It believes a boycott could cripple the German economy with surges in energy prices as well as shortages.

Last week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the West to end its “addiction” to Russian energy as he travelled to Saudi Arabia to push for increased oil and gas production.

Updated: March 20, 2022, 6:24 AM