Germany said Thursday it would raise the alert level under its emergency gas plan to secure supply following the recent reduction of pipeline supplies from Russia.
“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters.
Triggering phase two brings Germany a step closer to the third and final stage that could see gas rationing in Europe’s top economy.
Russia was using gas “as a weapon” against Germany in retaliation for the West’s support for Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion, Habeck said.
Germany, like a number of other European countries, is highly reliant on Russian energy imports to meet its needs.
Russian energy giant Gazprom last week significantly reduced supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany by 60 percent due to what the company said was a delayed repair.
The second “alarm” level under the government’s emergency plan reflected a “significant deterioration of the gas supply situation”, Habeck said.
At the “alarm” level, Germany is still considered to be in a position to “manage” the situation for the time being.
Habeck said that households “can make a difference” by saving energy, as Germany launches a campaign to encourage gas saving measures.
Germany has mandated that gas storage facilities be filled to 90 percent ahead of the European winter this year to mitigate the risks from a supply cut.
Currently, the country’s stores stand just under 60 percent full.
Germany has managed to reduce the share of its natural gas supplied by Russia from 55 percent before the invasion to around 35 percent.
Europe’s largest economy has also sought new sources of supply, and accelerated plans to import gas into the country by sea in the form of LNG.