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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Denmark and Germany announce plans for hydrogen pipeline

Germany and Denmark will work together to construct a pipeline to transport hydrogen between the two countries, ministers announced on Friday.

Denmark and Germany announce plans for hydrogen pipeline

Danish climate minister Lars Aagaard and German counterpart, Minister for the Economy and Climate Robert Habeck, briefed press on Friday after signing a declaration which could see a hydrogen pipeline between the countries completed by 2028.

“A big thank you to Germany when it comes to questions of energy and climate,” Aagaard said.

“We have the same interests in so many areas. Today we are taking it one step further,” he continued.

The declaration means the countries will work on an underground hydrogen pipeline between the Danish region of West Jutland and northern Germany.

The agreement sets out the general framework for the plan and who will lead it, according to Danish news wire Ritzau.

A Danish-German partnership over a hydrogen pipeline can be seen in a broader context of the Danish government’s plans relating to Power-to-X technology.

Power-to-X is the process by which electricity and water are converted into hydrogen using electrolysis. The hydrogen which is produced can be used as fuel in a number of ways, including as power for ferries, trucks and industry.

An agreement passed by the Danish parliament last year aims to build electrolysis capacity in the Nordic country to 4-6 gigawatts by 2030.

Germany already uses a large amount of hydrogen in its industry and will eventually need to convert from fossil fuel-produced hydrogen to hydrogen produced from sustainable sources such as wind and solar.

Demand for hydrogen power in Denmark is currently more limited.