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Legal framework for security of natural gas supply

The Energy Industry Act and Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply (SoS Regulation), which was amended in 2017, form the legal basis for secure gas supply.


The requirements of the SoS Regulation are transposed at national level via the Energy Industry Act (EnWG), the 1975 Energy Security Act (Energiesicherungsgesetz – EnSiG) and the Gas Security Ordinance (Gassicherungsverordnung – GasSV).

SoS Regulation

The SoS Regulation serves to strengthen the internal gas market and to prepare for a supply crisis. It defines the responsibilities and duties of companies, national authorities and the EU Commission, and provides for a comprehensive catalogue of measures and the national implementation of a three-stage escalation system (early warning, alarm and emergency stage) in the event of a supply crisis. In addition, the Member States are obliged to define in advance the envisaged crisis management, including preventive measures, as part of prevention and emergency plans.

The SoS Regulation sets infrastructure and supply standards.

The infrastructure standards include N-1 security and the availability of bidirectional capacities:

  • N-1 security: Compliance with the infrastructure standard depends on whether, in the event of an assumed interruption of gas supplies at the import point with the highest entry capacity into Germany, enough gas can be made available via the "remaining" transmission capacities so that the calculated maximum daily requirement is met. Germany fully meets the infrastructure standard of the SoS Regulation N-1.

The supply standards oblige gas companies to maintain the supply of "protected customers" (i.e. household customers as well as district heating systems that supply heat to household customers, and additionally for standard load profile customers (SLP), who are not household customers, and basic social services) even in the event of particularly high gas consumption levels, and to take appropriate precautions for this.

The TSOs take account of the infrastructure standards specified in the SoS Regulation as part of their gas network development plan (NDP).

The amendment of the SoS Regulation has introduced three additional pillars intended to further increase the security of gas supply, particularly with regard to the European gas market. These three pillars are regional cooperation in the event of common risks, a solidarity mechanism between member states in the event of a crisis and greater transparency through the provision of additional information.

  • Regional cooperation: A key element of the new SoS Regulation is greater risk-based cooperation between Member States. To this end, important cross-border risks for the security of natural gas supply in the European Union (EU) are identified, and risk groups are defined on this basis. The risk scenarios within the groups are essentially based on the main supply routes for natural gas supply to the EU. The risk groups serve as a basis for greater regional cooperation to increase security of gas supply and enable appropriate and effective cross-border measures agreed between all affected Member States within and outside the risk groups along the supply routes.
  • Solidarity mechanism between neighbouring Member States: Another key element of the revised SoS Regulation is the principle of solidarity, under which Member States are obliged to take solidarity measures to ensure the supply of vulnerable customers in crisis situations, e.g. household customers in neighbouring Member States. With Germany having eight adjacent Member States and being connected to Italy via Switzerland, it has a special responsibility here.

The SoS Regulation provides for solidarity between Member States as a last resort to maintain gas supplies. As a result, this means that Member States are only obliged to provide assistance if all available measures to maintain the supply of vulnerable customers have already been implemented in the Member State requesting solidarity. When a solidarity request is sent to Member States, they are initially obliged to offer additional gas quantities on market-based terms, which means they must ask market participants in their respective markets for voluntary offers and then pass these on in aggregated form to the Member State in distress. If these market-based offers do not suffice, additional non-market-based solidarity measures may be requested. In this second stage, the Member States receiving a request are obliged to restrict the supply of gas to customers in their own country who are not protected by solidarity in order to offer the then available gas quantities in solidarity to the Member State in distress.

The specific contractual and operational implementation of solidarity measures is governed by and recorded in intergovernmental agreements between the competent authorities of the Member States. The extent to which the German TSOs and market area managers (MAMs) will be involved in the solidarity-based process will be determined in intergovernmental negotiations. 

  • Transparency about relevant supply contracts: The third central element of the new SoS Regulation is far-reaching transparency and information duties. They oblige parties to relevant long-term gas supply contracts to disclose information to the competent authorities of the Member States or the European Commission. The obligations apply to all gas supply contracts that account for at least 28 percent of national gas sendout and contain commercial information relating to the use of the infrastructure.

The disclosure of supply contracts should allow the competent authorities of the Member States concerned to examine them for possible security of supply risks. Transferring the risk analyses to the European Commission also ensures that any risks to security of supply across several Member States can be identified and eliminated. As Germany already has a highly diversified gas import structure, this European requirement will have only a minor impact on Germany.

The SoS Regulation calls on Member States to establish a crisis management mechanism which includes preventive measures as part of prevention and emergency plans. The prevention and emergency plans, including the measures required within the context of risk management, are drawn up every four years by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy in cooperation with the gas industry and the Federal Network Agency

In the last transnational crisis management exercise, "LÜKEX", a national gas shortage situation was simulated on 28/29 December 2018. The LÜKEX 18 scenario was based on a real situation in February 2012, when there were supply bottlenecks in parts of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria due to the unusually high utilisation of capacities on regional gas supply networks and the simultaneous reduction of gas supplies into Germany. At the federal level, the participants were the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Home Affairs (BMI), the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). In addition, the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, as well as "critical infrastructure" companies (transmission system operators) and trade associations were involved in the exercise, which was observed by the EU Commission. In principle, the exercise showed that the emergency measures and information processes in place to deal with a gas crisis work well. 

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