Because of the rapidly increasing gas prices, the chemical company BASF no longer rules out cutting back its production.

After Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) declared the alarm level of the emergency plan for the gas market, the board says it expects “massive” increases in gas prices.

BASF now wants to decide "depending on the situation" whether and how production will be adjusted.

BASF is the largest industrial gas consumer in Germany.

Helmut Buender

Business correspondent in Düsseldorf.

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Bernd Freytag

Business correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar based in Mainz.

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One thing is clear: Gas consumption must be reduced, as quickly as possible, in order to gain additional quantities to fill the storage tanks.

Habeck's appeals sound more dramatic every day.

Even if Gazprom resumes its deliveries via the Baltic Sea pipeline at the current level after the maintenance shutdown in July - which Habeck doubts - it will definitely be very tight in the winter.

In industry, people prepare for emergencies.

For example in the ThyssenKrupp steelworks in Duisburg.

"We are preparing for an interruption or a restriction in natural gas supply in various short- and medium-term scenarios," said a spokesman.

"We have prepared and can react to possible delivery restrictions," says Salzgitter.

Dramatic prospects

The easiest and fastest way to save gas is to generate electricity.

Almost fifteen percent of natural gas consumption last year was burned in power plants.

Therefore, lignite and hard coal power plants are taken out of the reserve to produce for the market again.

The Essen-based chemical group Evonik will leave its coal-fired power plant in Marl connected to the grid and will not operate its new gas-fired power plants for the time being.

Most chemical companies do not have this alternative, almost all large locations are now supplied with gas.

Switching to coal will not be enough because some gas-fired power plants also produce district heating and are therefore urgently needed in winter.

In the chemical industry, gas is not only used as an energy source, but also as a raw material.

The situation with fertilizers and the exhaust gas cleaner Adblue, which is prescribed for diesel vehicles, could become dramatic.

Both are made from ammonia.

"We don't have any savings in the production process," said a spokesman for Wittenberg SKW, Germany's largest ammonia producer.

One thing is already clear: the prices for Adblue and fertilizers would continue to rise.

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