Germany triggers gas supply 'alarm stage'

STORY: Russian gas is still flowing down pipelines to Germany, but at a dwindling rate.

Now Berlin is triggering the second phase, or “alarm stage”, of a three-step emergency plan.

Thursday’s (June 23) move could allow utilities to pass on high prices to industry and households, helping to lower demand.

Though Germany says that clause isn't being activated yet.

It’s an escalation from Phase 1, which mainly involved stricter monitoring of gas flows.

The alarm comes after Russian energy giant Gazprom last week cut flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

In a statement, German economy minister Robert Habeck called the cut in supplies an “economic attack”.

Russia denies any such intent.

It blamed delays in the return of a critical turbine used in the pipeline, which is currently being serviced in Canada.

European officials have dismissed that as an excuse.

Now Germany's mighty manufacturers are contemplating painful cuts to output to conserve gas.

Some may also have to switch to more polluting forms of energy, something once considered unthinkable.

The EU has already signalled it will have to temporarily turn to coal to stave off energy shortages.

Phase 3 of Germany’s emergency plan would see state intervention in energy markets.

That point hasn’t come yet, but Thursday’s news brought it one step closer.