BERLIN — The German government published on Wednesday that it will nationalize the country’s largest importer of Russian gas, Uniper, expanding state intervention to prevent energy shortages due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The move builds on a 15 billion euro rescue package from late July aimed at stabilizing the gas giant, which supplies 40 percent of the natural gas used in Germany. Through an additional capital increase of 8 billion euros, the German government will now take ownership of 99 percent of the company.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the European Commission.
German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Robert Habeck said on Wednesday that the step had become necessary because the situation had changed in the past few weeks. Conditions have worsened, he said, especially since Russia stopped all gas deliveries through the Nord Stream gas pipeline in early September.
“The decision was taken,” he told a news conference, “to ensure security of supply to Germany.”
Uniper, which is one of Europe’s largest gas companies, has struggled in light of the turmoil in the energy market following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company, which imports roughly 50 percent of its gas from Russia, said reduced supplies led to a loss of 12 billion euros in the first half of 2022.
Klaus-Dieter Maubach, Uniper’s chief executive, said the move to nationalization was necessary due to worsening conditions and promised the company would do “its part in overcoming the energy crisis”.
For months, the German government has firmly pledged to support Uniper for the sake of the company key role within the country’s energy infrastructure. “We will not allow a systemically relevant company like Uniper to fail, thereby jeopardizing Germany’s energy security.” Habeck said in July. “The energy shortage artificially created by Russia is not a normal fluctuation that the market can digest. ”