"We are in a gas crisis. Gas is now a scarce resource," Economy Minister Robert Habeck told a press conference.

In this context, the government will be able to "support" market players in coping with high prices.

This is the second stage of the device on the supply of German gas, activated last March, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The third and final stage of this plan based on a model of the European Union, the "emergency level", would allow the State to organize rationing in order to distribute the volumes between individuals, administrations, industry.

The decision follows the 60% drop since last week in gas deliveries via Nord Stream to Germany from the Russian group Gazprom, which claims a technical problem.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck shows a graph showing forecast gas storage levels on June 23, 2022 at his ministry in Berlin Tobias SCHWARZ AFP

But for the German government, it is a "political decision", intended to weigh in the showdown between Moscow and Western countries over the war in Ukraine.

This decision had a heavy impact on several European countries, in particular Germany, Italy and France.

Admittedly, reserves in Germany currently stand at 58%, a level "higher than the average of recent years".

But if deliveries via the Nordstream gas pipeline "remain at a low level", the "90% storage level", recommended by German law will "not be reached", according to the ministry.

This is why "we must take all the necessary measures to ensure our supply" in anticipation of next winter, said Robert Habeck.

Already Germany announced on Sunday its decision to use more coal to save gas, which represented 15% of the electricity produced in 2021.

Berlin also announced the opening of a credit line of fifteen billion euros from the public bank KfW to finance the purchase of gas, whose prices have soared, by the player responsible for purchases for Germany, Trading European Hub.

© 2022 AFP