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ENERGY

Denmark faces ‘uncertain winter’ after Russia halts gas supplies to Europe

Denmark's climate minister has said the country is entering an uncertain autumn and winter after the Nord Stream 1 gas pipe, which supplies Russian natural gas to Denmark via Germany, was closed indefinitely on Friday.

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany in March, 2022.
Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany in March, 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

Denmark’s Climate, Energy and Supply Minister Dan Jørgensen called the situation ‘very serious’ and said he was considering new energy saving measures after Russian gas giant Gazprom said the Nord Stream pipeline, due to reopen at the weekend, would remain shut until a turbine is repaired.

“If the shutdown turns out to be a permanent decision, it means that we could end up in a situation where we have supply problems”, Jørgensen told newswire Ritzau.

On paper, the measures Denmark has already taken to save on gas are enough to get through the winter. But Jørgensen emphasised that the situation was very uncertain.

“In Denmark, we have done well to save gas, but more needs to be done. Therefore a very clear message is needed on what you can do yourself at home and in companies, Jørgensen said.

“Whether we end up in a situation where advice and guidance are not enough and we need definite rules, is too early to say now. But it is not something I’m ruling out”, he added.

READ MORE: Denmark gives cash to 400,000 households hit by energy costs

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline normally sends enough natural gas from Russia to Europe to heat around 26 million homes, but this supply has been significantly reduced since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February. The line has been shut down in recent days for maintenance work, which should have been completed on Saturday. 

Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen has called the the closure a political decision.

“There are many indications that this is part of Putin’s game towards the EU. Putin uses energy as a weapon against the EU countries”, Jørgensen said.

According to Denmark’s largest energy company Andel Energi, the closure of Nord Stream 1 may cause even more price increases but the company is not worried people will freeze this winter.

“We are quite optimistic about this winter. Supplies are sufficient it seems. But a further escalation of the supply crisis could mean something in the short term”, Jack Kristensen, functional manager at Andel Energi told DR News.

On Saturday, Sweden said it would provide liquidity guarantees to Nordic and Baltic energy companies worth “billions of dollars” in a bid to prevent a financial crisis sparked by Europe’s energy crunch.

Speaking at a press conference, finance Minister Mikael Damberg said the decision would “secure financial stability not only in Sweden but in the entire Nordic region”.

The guarantees were expected to be in place on Monday before the stock market closing and would cover all Nordic and Baltic actors within the next two weeks.

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UKRAINE

Germany, Denmark and Norway to give Ukraine howitzers

Germany, Denmark and Norway will supply Ukraine with 16 armoured howitzer artillery systems from next year, Berlin said Sunday, as Kyiv seeks heavier weapons to boost its fightback against Russia.

Germany, Denmark and Norway to give Ukraine howitzers

The announcement came after German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht visited Ukraine this weekend for the first time since Moscow’s invasion in February.

Germany, Denmark and Norway had agreed to jointly finance the procurement of the Slovakian Zuzana-2 guns at a cost of 92 million euros ($90.2 million), said the defence ministry in Berlin.

They will be produced in Slovakia, with delivery to Ukraine to begin in 2023, it said.

The new pledge still falls short of what Ukraine has been asking for. Kyiv has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he does not want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Speaking on public broadcaster ARD, Lambrecht again defended Berlin’s weapons deliveries to Ukraine, insisting Germany was doing a lot to support Kyiv.

“We will continue to engage in a variety of ways and will again — as we have up until now — work together with partners,” she told the “Bericht aus Berlin” show.

She also insisted that Germany would not become a direct party to the conflict.

“It is very clear — for the German government as well as the whole of NATO: We will not become a party to the war,” Lambrecht said.

Her visit Saturday to the southern port city of Odessa came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

The annexations were unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies, including Germany.

Lambrecht described how air raid sirens went off during her visit.

“We experienced that twice in a few hours, and had to move to a bunker. And for people there, that is reality,” she told the ARD show. “That is everyday life.”

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