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Updated April 18th, 2022 at 13:21 IST

German Economy Minister Habeck opposes fracking, warns against import ban on Russian gas

"An immediate gas embargo would endanger social peace in Germany," said the German ministe "So we have to act prudently, prepare the steps carefully."

Zaini Majeed
Habeck
Image: AP | Image:self
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German economic minister Robert Habeck on April 17, Sunday once again snubbed the alternate option to cut off Russian energy independence from Russia. He opposed the fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technology practice of releasing oil and gas from the deep underground. Germany over the years has only considered a relatively few projects to drill shale oil for non-commercial purposes, but as the practice has remained unregulated until now with few laws in place, the governments including the former administration of Angela Merkel have banned it. 

German economic minister against 'destroying' deep layers of rock

On April 17, Berlin’s economic minister Robert Habeck rejected the idea, saying:  “In the North German Plain we are sitting on a large amount of gas that can only be accessed with fracking. So you would have to destroy deep layers of rock with great pressure and chemical substances in order to extract the gas,” according to German broadcaster Funke. “This is difficult under water law because it can have negative consequences for our environment. At the moment there are no companies that want that either,” he went on to add. Germany had instated a draft law on the fracking in April 2015, reviving some of the proposals at the last minute as companies demanded a legal framework, but major fracking projects have been put on hold. While in not supporting drilling blasts of mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground to obtain shale oil and gas, Habeck, of the Green Party, has often looked at ally Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for energy supply options. 

He, although, also warned against an import ban on Russian gas, echoing statements made by the French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. "An immediate gas embargo would endanger social peace in Germany," said the German minister. "So we have to act prudently, prepare the steps carefully and be able to stick with them if we want to harm Putin," he added. His comments were in contradiction to Bavaria's Prime Minister and CSU leader Markus Söder who, in turn, suggested enabling fracking. "We must not completely rule out oil and gas production from existing capacities in Germany," he said. For Russian gas, Germany needs the widest possible replacement capacity. “We have to be open-minded about what is possible and what makes sense. Bans could be lifted," the latter continued. 

Putin warns West against phasing out Russian gas

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of destabilising the market and inflating prices while diverting the blame for its miscalculation about green energy to the ongoing Ukrainian war and warned that the phasing out of Russian gas imports will have a negative impact on their economies. At the meeting of the country's oil and gas sector, Putin said, “Now there is a wonderful reason to cover up their miscalculations and blame everything on Russia.” Putin's remarks came as the Russia-Ukraine war entered its 50th day. Russian President asserted, "European countries are constantly talking about refusing Russian supplies, thereby further destabilising the market and inflating prices themselves." He continued: “Supplies from other countries that could be sent to Europe, primarily from the United States, would cost consumers several times more” thereby affecting "people's standard of living and the competitiveness of the European economy".

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Published April 18th, 2022 at 13:21 IST

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