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Germany raps US over ‘astronomical’ gas prices

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Germany’s economy minister on Wednesday accused countries including the US of charging too much for gas as Europe’s biggest economy struggles to rebalance its energy mix without Russian supplies.

“Some countries, even friendly ones, are achieving astronomical prices in some cases,” Robert Habeck told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper.

“This naturally brings problems with it, which we have to talk about,” he said.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a dramatic energy crisis in Germany, which previously relied on Moscow for 55 percent of gas deliveries.

Russia has been gradually squeezing supplies since invading Ukraine in what Berlin believes is retaliation for its support for Kyiv.

To fill the gap, Berlin is investing in more expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Germany and other European countries have thus turned to the United States, which now provides 45 percent of European LNG imports – up from 28 percent in 2021.

“The US turned to us when oil prices shot up, and as a result national oil reserves were also tapped in Europe,” Habeck said. “I think such solidarity would also be good for curbing gas prices.”

Habeck also called on the EU to coordinate gas purchases to help bring prices down.

The bloc should “bundle its market power and orchestrate smart and synchronized purchasing behavior among EU states so that individual EU countries do not outbid each other and drive up world market prices,” he said.

Germany last week announced a 200-billion-euro ($199-billion) fund to shield consumers from soaring energy prices.

However, the plan has been criticized by France and key members of the European Commission, who are calling for EU-wide solutions to the energy crunch.

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