Germany’s Scholz in Canada to diversify energy supplies

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TORONTO (AP) — German leader Olaf Scholz said Monday he was working as soon as possible to reduce Germany’s energy dependence on Russia, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a business case was needed to move gas from Canada to send to Europe.

Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel late last year, is in Canada this week and will sign a deal with Trudeau to supply clean hydrogen to Germany.

“Canada plays a very, very central role in the development of green hydrogen,” said Scholz. “We are therefore very pleased to be able to expand our cooperation in this area again this time.”

Germany would like to be Canada’s partner in future exports of green hydrogen, but in the meantime natural gas is needed. However, Trudeau downplayed the likelihood of direct gas exports to Germany due to logistical constraints and costs. Trudeau said it had to make economic sense.

“There are a number of potential projects in the books that have never had a strong business case,” Trudeau said. “It must make sense for Germany to rely on important LNG from the east coast.”

Scholz thanked Canada for allowing the export of a refurbished turbine, despite sanctions against Moscow, which Russia says it needed to continue supplying Europe with natural gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The fact that Russia has not yet requested the needed turbine, which is currently in Germany, shows that Russian claims about technical problems hampering gas supplies to Russia are a ruse, he said.

“Russia is no longer a reliable business partner,” said Scholz. “She has reduced gas supplies all over Europe, always citing technical reasons that never existed. And that is why it is important not to fall into the trap of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

Russia’s Gazprom cut gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 60% in June. The state-owned gas company cited alleged technical problems with the turbine, which partner Siemens Energy had sent to Canada for an overhaul and could not be returned due to sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pipeline will also be shut down for three days for maintenance later this month, Gazprom announced last week, increasing economic pressure on Germany and other European countries that depend on the fuel industry to generate electricity and heat homes.

Scholz said Russia is trying to split allies supporting Ukraine and will never succeed.

Natural gas prices have skyrocketed as Russia reduced or suspended natural gas supplies to a dozen European Union countries, fueling inflation and raising the risk that Europe could slide into recession. The Germans have been urged to reduce gas consumption now so that the country has enough for the coming winter.

Scholz said Germany is building many ports and pipelines on the north coast of Germany and many other places to allow LNG imports.

“We are working hard to become independent from this gas supply and we are making a lot of investments to achieve that and we are doing it as soon as possible. Never before has such an infrastructure been built in Germany in such a short time,” said Scholz.

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Associated Press Author Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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