If the Germans don’t have it, what does that mean for us?
That we don’t have it either.
Czechs are buying heat pumps for fear of gas, and they’ve been waiting for them for months
How vulnerable are we when it comes to energy?
A lot of. Fortunately, we have two nuclear power plants. We are building photovoltaics, but that does not solve the problem of seasonal fluctuations, nor the problem of possible failures of coal resources. We must learn to compose our energy mix from everything. There is a conflict of time and immediate solution, and we do not have an overnight solution. We must act like the Poles. For a long time they led the battle against NordStream, they also pushed for coal extraction, at the end of the year they will have new gas connections with Denmark and Norway. Now they are in a situation where they may have excess gas, as they have contracted supplies from the United States and Qatar. We will arrange deliveries in about a month. It will already be sold out in Qatar.
Should we then work with the Poles?
It would be very advantageous for us, because we don’t have another teammate around. Austria will not help us much, because we are not connected by a pipe through which the gas could flow from them. Although we have a pipe to Poland, it has a small capacity. The Czech Republic should therefore quickly negotiate the laying of another pipe with a higher capacity. It turns out that the Poles assessed the crisis better than us. The Poles will cut themselves off from Russia this year.
Can we rely on energy supplies from Germany?
We take German gas in bulk, that’s without debate, but Germany’s interests are a little different. We still think he will come back to the core, but I don’t think so. The Leipzig Stock Exchange, where our energy industry makes a lot of money, is also a problem. It produces cheaply and sells high in Leipzig, but we buy it high for our consumers. This needs to be fixed as energy will be scarce for some time.
For how long?
It’s not a matter of months. I think the energy will be amazing for three years, but that period will be very difficult. If a household that shuts down gets a twenty or thirty percent higher bill, that’s a huge problem.
So the question arises whether to stop taking gas first or wait for Russia to close the taps first?
It’s a very difficult question. When you see images from Ukraine, morality tells me to close now and not buy pencils from the Russians anymore. On the other hand (Russian President Vladimir) Putin acts with calculation. And in the world, if one calculates, and the other takes it only with the heart, the heart rate usually loses. We must be bigger beasts than Putin. It was bad when Europe said it couldn’t shut it down until 2025. It was pouring white water on Putin. We have to push it saying we’re going to close it tomorrow and look for ways to do it technically. It must be said that we are in a critical situation, which must be dealt with by a state of war. If I need a pipe, it cannot be solved in two years, but the officials must draw it in fifteen days. I say this as someone who has declared a few office emergencies. We still live in a state of peace and do not realize that there is a crisis.
Do the Czechs see it that way?
They felt like that at first, but now it’s a little weaker because not much is happening. This is the role of the media and politicians. Politicians are not in good times, civil servants can. The politician is in crisis. When the barracks fall, the mayor arrives. It does not matter whether I am a politician at European level or mayor of a village.
This year’s heating season is slowly winding down, but we probably don’t have much time left.
We have to find out by November. We have to reckon with the possibility that the gas stops flowing, and it doesn’t matter whether we or Putin shut it down. We are looking for the closest partners. Negotiations with Germany are complicated. If the Poles agreed… We don’t have a closer partner by the sea. The problem is the tip.
It’s a question of time. Clash in Ukraine was inevitable, Putin said
What is the state of the energy networks that would connect the whole of Europe?
We’ve been talking about it since 2018. The problem is in the pipeline through the Pyrenees between Spain and France. This would give access to Morocco and North Africa. Spain reports that it has a gas surplus. We have no pipes to Austria. There has been talk for years about the need to build seafront terminals. Lithuania built something, Poland built something. I was surprised that few of them were built by the Germans.
Czechia also had ties with Norway.
Now I was surprised that in 2017 the connection between the Czech Republic and the use of Norwegian gas ended. I consider this a huge strategic mistake.