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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is set to review its ban on allowing new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea as it tries to reduce its dependence on Russian energy due to the invasion of Ukraine, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Sunday.
Under the coalition agreement between Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, the Greens and Lindner’s Liberal Democrats (FDP), Germany will not grant any new oil and gas drilling permits in the North Sea to the beyond the existing framework.
“We have to question the decision in the coalition agreement,” Lindner told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
“Due to the price development of the world market, it seems more economical.”
Germany, which depends on Russia for two-thirds of its natural gas imports, is urgently trying to boost alternative energy sources, including building its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. Lindner, however, said that at least for a transition period, Europe’s biggest economy will still need oil and gas.
“In the changed geopolitical context, I think it is advisable to examine the whole energy strategy of our country without any prohibition of thought,” he said.
Despite the sharp rise in fuel prices at gas stations, Lindner rejected a temporary reduction in sales tax from 19% to 7% for gasoline and diesel, as suggested by some politicians.
“If the Conservatives are calling for a brake on fuel prices, they have to say what they want to cut from the budget. Or admit that they are ready to take on new debt for it,” he said, adding that he was also opposed to the introduction of a speed limit on German autobahns.