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Germany considers nationalizing another major gas importer — reports

  • September 22, 2022

Following the nationalization of gas giant Uniper earlier in the week, the German government on Thursday confirmed it was considering the takeover of SEFE, the German subsidary of Russia’s energy behemoth Gazprom. 

Plans to nationalize SEFE were first reported in German news magazine Der Spiegel. Later, a spokeswoman for Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the government talks about the future of the company are ongoing. 

She could not provide further details. SEFE had no immediate comment.

“Discussions are ongoing in the federal government regarding the future of Sefe,”  a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economics told Reuters news agency.

SEFE under federal trusteeship since April

In June, the government placed Gazprom Germania, as it was then known, into long-term administration and provided it with a loan of up to €10 billion ($10.4 billion) to stop the company from insolvency.

The company was taken under temporary administration following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With assets and subsidiaries in Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and outside Europe, the firm’s activities are essential for the European gas market and supplies to industry and households.

Germany’s winter gas woes

As winter approaches, Germany was doing all it can to save natural gas. Gas storage tanks were over 90% full.

On Thursday Habeck said Germany must fully utilize its fiscal policy to preserve the economy and keep business and industry investments going.

He added that being forced to replace Russian energy imports would cost Europe’s biggest economy some €60 billion ($58.89 billion) this year and €100 billion next year.

Germany last week also took control of a Russian-owned oil refinery, which supplies 90% of the capital’s fuel.

With the Uniper nationalization, Germany is pumping at least €40 billion ($39.49 billion) into its three biggest Russian gas importers  Uniper, SEFE and EnBW’s VNG division.

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

lo/wmr (dpa, Reuters)

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