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Business

Germany, EU race to fix energy crisis




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  • Germany plans to expand lending to energy companies
  • The EU’s securities watchdog is considering EU-wide measures
  • The commission will announce wider plans on Wednesday

BERLIN/FRANKFURT, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Germany will step up lending to energy companies at risk of being crushed by high gas prices, it said on Tuesday, as Europe prepared proposals to help households and industry cope with an energy crisis.

On Wednesday, the European Commission will announce targets for cutting electricity consumption and a revenue ceiling for non-gas-powered plants. Energy ministers will hold an emergency meeting on September 30 to discuss them. read more

Individually, the EU’s securities supervision is considering measures to help energy companies struggling to meet sky-high collateral requirements. Businesses were caught by rising prices after Russia cut gas supplies to Europe to counter Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. read more

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The crisis is weighing on Europe’s economy, even before winter when industrial users may face rationing if gas reserves prove insufficient. Industry sentiment in the bloc’s economic powerhouse, Germany, has fallen.

“Of course we knew, and we know, that our solidarity with Ukraine will have consequences,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday. He urged Germans to prepare for a tough winter as energy supplies shift from Russian gas. read more

Under pressure, utilities are in line for further state support.

Germany’s finance ministry wants to increase government loans to energy companies that use facilities set up to offer relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, it said. The German cabinet is expected to approve the bill on Wednesday. The loan guarantees could amount to 67 billion euros ($68 billion). read more

Last week VNG, one of Germany’s biggest importers of Russian natural gas, became the latest energy company to ask the government for help.

Uniper ( UN01.DE ), the country’s biggest importer of Russian gas, was bailed out in July. It is weighing legal action in Sweden to demand billions of euros in compensation from Russia’s Gazprom ( GAZP.MM ), Reuters reported on Tuesday. read more

STAIN OF EU PROPOSALS

Companies can also benefit from relaxations in the regulations.

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is “actively considering” whether any regulatory measures are needed to help support energy companies, a spokesperson said on Monday. read more

ESMA regulates clearing houses in the EU, which in turn set minimum levels of security based on risks from markets and counterparties. Public intervention in this area is rare, especially after the global financial crisis over a decade ago led to tougher margin requirements.

A draft of the European Commission’s proposal, seen by Reuters, would put a cap of 180 euros per megawatt hour on the price at which wind, solar and nuclear plants can sell their power in the 27-nation bloc. It will also force fossil fuel companies to share excess profits. read more

Authorities will be required to use the cash to help consumers and companies facing skyrocketing energy bills.

However, EU officials said plans for emergency liquidity support for power companies facing soaring security needs were still being drawn up and were likely to be published later than Wednesday.

NO GAS PRICE RESTRICTION

Diplomats say there is broad support for a revenue cap for non-gas generators, as well as plans to impose cuts by electricity. But countries are divided over other ideas – including a gas price cap.

The EU has also withdrawn from an earlier plan to introduce a price cap on Russian gas. Countries including Hungary and Austria had opposed that idea in case Moscow retaliated by cutting off the supplies it still sends to the EU.

Meanwhile, investor sentiment in Germany worsened more than expected in September as concerns over energy supplies weighed on the outlook for Europe’s largest economy. read more

“The prospect of energy shortages in winter has made expectations even more negative for large parts of German industry,” said Achim Wambach, president of the ZEW economic research institute.

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Additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels and Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Mark Potter, Matt Scuffham and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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