Gas bills to double for millions of German households

Germany has been highly reliant on supplies of Russian gas to meet its energy demands. PHOTO: AFP

FRANKFURT (AFP) - German households are bracing for bigger-than-usual bills this winter as energy companies pass on the cost of gas, which has soared since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The invoice for a typical household could double from Oct 1, German group RheinEnergie warned in a statement on Monday (Aug 1), the first major provider to give a detailed estimate.

The company supplies approximately 2.5 million people with energy in the region around the city of Cologne, in western Germany.

"An increase of almost 450 per cent in the procurement cost for natural gas" over the past year was behind the punishing increase, RheinEnergie said.

The "market deteriorated significantly again with the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine", which further sent up the price, RheinEnergie said.

A two-person household, with an average gas consumption of 10,000 kilowatt-hours annually, would see their bill jump from around 960 euros (S$1,351) a year ago to 2,002 euros, the company said.

Germany has been highly reliant on supplies of Russian gas to meet its energy demands, but Moscow has slowly dwindled supplies since the start of the war.

The threat that Russia could cut deliveries completely has raised the possibility of shortages over the winter and brought Germany closer to rationing supplies.

Officials in Berlin have mandated the filling of gas storage tankers before the winter and moved to allow under-pressure energy companies to pass on ballooning costs.

The step, which will come into force in the autumn, could add "a few hundred euros" to household bills, Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said.

That surcharge was however "not included" in the increase announced by RheinEnergie, the group said.

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