It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas

(The Guardian, 9 Mar 2022) Starving Putin’s military machine of funds and preventing the collapse of life on Earth: we can do both at once.

As Russia threatens to cut off the fossil gas on which much of Europe depends, the continent’s storage facilities are a crucial line of defence. So you’ll be glad to hear that Germany possesses a massive gas storage reservoir, under the town of Rehden, in Lower Saxony. The biggest strategic reserve in western Europe, it can hold enough fossil gas to supply 2 million households for a year.

You’ll be less delighted to discover who owns it. It belongs to a company called Astora. Astora is a subsidiary of the Russian state company Gazprom. Altogether, it owns about one-quarter of Germany’s gas stores. All of them are almost empty. They have been run down to 10% or less of their capacity. According to the German minister for economic affairs and climate action, these storage facilities have been “systematically emptied”.

Idiocy is nested within idiocy like a stack of Russian dolls. Germany has allowed private companies to control its strategic reserve, and has imposed no legal requirements on how much gas the reserve should hold. Nor has it prevented companies controlled by foreign states from owning it. Instead, like the UK, it has ceded this crucial security issue to a mysterious deity it calls “the market”.

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The Guardian, 9 Mar 2022: It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas