The so-called "embargo", which is the suspension of imports of Russian natural gas, is attracting attention in order to further increase the pressure on Russia, which continues its military invasion of Ukraine.

Although regarded as the "trump card" of Western countries that import energy from Russia, it has not yet been realized.

why is it?

Two keywords emerged from the interview.

1. 1.

Estimated loss of 30 trillion yen?


Dependence on Russia

(Berlin bureau chief, Kenichi Tanaka)

What is Russian natural gas for Germany?

Before Germany's invasion of Ukraine began, Russia accounted for 55% of the natural gas it imported.

In addition, before the invasion, there was a move toward the operation of a new gas pipeline "Nord Stream 2" between Germany and Russia.

Germany imports not only natural gas but also coal and oil from Russia, but gas is used as a fuel for home heating in Germany, where the cold of winter is severe, and as a fuel for manufacturing factories. It is an important energy that supports the economy.

Are energy prices soaring in Germany due to the military invasion?

This March, the consumer price index rose 7.3% compared to the same month of the previous year, the highest record rise since East and West Germany was unified in 1990.

Among them, energy prices have risen significantly, rising 39.5% compared to the same month of the previous year, hitting the lives of citizens directly.

What position does Germany have in stopping imports of Russian gas?

The German government is pursuing a "de-Russia" move away from its energy dependence on Russia following a military invasion, but is cautious about immediately stopping imports of natural gas.

This is because there are concerns about a major economic impact if gas imports from Russia cease.

What is the economic impact

Five economic research institutes, including Germany's leading IFO Economic Research Institute, held a joint press conference on April 13 regarding the impact of the gas outage from Russia, and the German economy will be 220 billion over the next two years. The company announced that it will be damaged by about 30 trillion yen in euros and Japanese yen.

This is about 6.5% of Germany's GDP = gross domestic product, and if the gas stops, the growth rate of this year will be only 1.9%, and it is expected to drop to minus 2.2% next year.

Why the economic impact is so great

Natural gas is used as a fuel for power plants that supply electricity to factories, but it is also used as a material for chemical products.

This is because chemical products are used in many of the things made in Germany, and if they stop, the entire supply chain in Germany is expected to be hit hard.

In early April, the president of one of Germany's leading chemical manufacturers, Evonik, interviewed by NHK, said that if the gas from Russia were cut off, the factory of the company's largest production base, where 10,000 people would work in the west, would work. He explained that he would be forced to reduce the operation to about one tenth of the normal level.

The manufacturer produces approximately 4000 chemicals used in a variety of industrial products such as automotive parts and paints, solar panels and wind turbines, as well as cosmetics.

He is also the industry leader in the 1900 German chemicals, pointing out that the impact could be on the German economy as a whole.

(President of major chemical manufacturer "Evonik" Christian Kullmann)

"Since 90% of the products manufactured in Germany use chemical products that require gas, if the gas supply from Russia is cut off, only the chemical manufacturer Rather, the chain reaction will force many other major industries, such as construction and automobiles, to shut down. "

I can't procure gas other than Russian

The alternative to Russian is LNG = liquefied natural gas in the Middle East and the United States, but Germany does not have an LNG terminal, a base for supplying LNG carried by tankers from overseas.

For this reason, it is extremely difficult to replace Russian gas in a short period of time.

In Germany, low-priced gas has been supplied from Russia through pipelines, so even if a terminal construction plan emerges, it will be realized that the investment cost is not worth the investment cost compared to procuring Russian gas. It means that it didn't come.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the German government is promoting the "derussianization" of energy.

For that reason, we are planning to hurry to build an LNG terminal, but it will take several years to build.

Regarding Russia's dependence on natural gas, which plagues Germany today, the president of a chemical manufacturer said:

(President of major chemical manufacturer Evonik Christian Kullmann)

"Gas dependence on Russia was wrong and we should have diversified our suppliers sooner. We should correct our mistakes, but we cannot achieve them immediately."

What the German government is doing to get rid of natural gas in Russia

In late March, Energy Policy Minister Harbeck, Minister of Economy and Climate Protection, said that imports of natural gas from Russia could be significantly reduced next year by mid-2024.

To that end, we will call on companies and the public to save energy and further accelerate the spread of renewable energy.

Mr. Habeck is the former leader of the Green Party, an environmental party that advocates the promotion of renewable energy.

Securing gas, a fossil fuel, contradicts the party's philosophy, but Mr. Harbeck visited Qatar in the Middle East in mid-March as an energy minister to secure LNG.

It can be said that this visit shows the imminent situation in Germany.

On the other hand, if Germany, an economic powerhouse, embarks on securing LNG in earnest, it could have a major impact on the world's energy acquisition competition, and Japan, which imports energy from overseas, also needs attention.

Will Germany continue to stop importing natural gas?

In April, the G7, chaired by Germany, issued a summit statement stating that it would push forward with a ban on coal imports from Russia.

However, the statement does not include oil and natural gas.

Experts familiar with energy policy believe that the German government is unlikely to step into a gas import ban at this time.

(Marte Cuper, Cologne Institute of Economic Research)

"The German government recognizes that a gas import ban is the strongest means of pressure on Russia, but even if Germany imposes a gas import ban, Russia If Germany does not stop its military invasion, it must take into account that Germany could be more hurt than Russia. Therefore, the German government hastened to break away from Russia's dependence, but said it was not interested in import bans right now. Also,


the latest poll released by the German public broadcaster ARD in April, 48% of the respondents did not support the "immediate oil and gas import ban", and 40 of those who did. It exceeded%.

There are demonstrations in Germany calling for an embargo on gas, but the pros and cons are divided.

However, the criticism of Russia continues to grow as the serious sacrifices of its citizens become apparent in Ukraine.

It is also expected that there will be increasing voices that European countries that have depended on Russia, such as Germany, should step up to a ban on gas imports.

Germany, which is expected to play an important role as Europe's largest economy, is faced with a difficult steering to balance pressure and its own livelihood and economy while facing the past that has depended on Russia for energy. ..