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Energy market iwd 25. September 2014

Germany benefits from oil imports

Increasing energy imports are often understood as a threat to the security of energy supply and an economic disadvantage. But both conclusions are simplified, as is the demand for a more self-sufficient energy supply. Actually, the security of energy supply depends on open and integrated markets. Moreover, Germany benefits from the income of oil countries.

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Germany and Europe as a whole are prime examples of the success of economic openness. However, in the context of energy supply, open markets are often questioned. There are voices that even call for the self-sufficiency of the energy supply. Given that only small quantities of raw materials for energy can be extracted in Germany and Europe, a substantial amount has to be imported. Risks concerning the energy supply do not necessarily result from this reason alone. To be able to draw conclusions on possible vulnerabilities, other aspects like the concentration of supplying countries or the risks of transport and the available infrastructure must be taken into account.

An example is the availability of mineral oil. As around a third of the German energy mix is made up of oil, as well as its significant role in substitution possibilities, it is crucial that this supply is not interrupted. Dependencies on imports from countries outside the single market have risen to almost 66 per cent in Germany and to 81 per cent in the European Union and are likely to rise further over the next few years. However, concentration of suppliers is relatively low and there are liquid markets as well as good transport facilities so that it is theoretically possible to switch to other suppliers. The existing infrastructure is well suited to ensuring availability of mineral oils in the EU and Germany. Additionally, there is a certain degree of flexibility by trading mineral oil products. In particular, new actors such as the USA play an important role here. Higher risks of energy supply are seen in gas markets which are not sufficiently integrated, unlike for oil and coal.

Additionally, rising oil prices and a globally rising quantitative demand for oil have led to a massively growing oil income in oil countries. This oil boom has also led to an enormous investment boom in these countries. The German economy and especially the capital goods manufacturers benefit notably from this development. In recent years, around 7.5 per cent of all German exports of capital goods were attributable to oil countries. At the turn of the millennium, this share only accounted for around 3.5 per cent. In particular, the importance of oil countries for German trade surpluses with capital goods has more than doubled in a comparison between 2008 and the 1990s. Most recently, around 17 per cent of this surplus was realised with oil countries.

An internationally integrated energy supply has the advantage that it both benefits from positive trends on the world market (e.g. cost reductions) and it can respond better to supply risks. For reasons of supply security, it is necessary to work towards less autarky and an expansion of procurement options, especially ample transport facilities.

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