Russia further cuts gas flows as Europe appeals for savings


Pipes from the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline landing facilities are pictured in Lubmin, Germany March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/

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BERLIN/FRANKFURT, July 27 (Reuters) – Russia delivered less gas to Europe on Wednesday in a further escalation of an energy standoff between Moscow and the European Union that will make it harder and more costly for the bloc to fulfill storage before the winter heating season.

The supply cut, reported by Gazprom (GAZP.MM) earlier this week, reduced the capacity of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline – the main route to Europe for Russian gas – to just a fifth of its capacity total.

A day earlier, EU countries had approved a weakened contingency plan to curb gas demand after reaching compromise deals to limit cuts for some countries, hoping lower consumption would ease the slump. impact in case Moscow completely stops the supply. Read more

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The plan highlights concerns that countries will not be able to meet their targets for filling storage and keeping their citizens warm during the winter months and the risk that Europe’s fragile economic growth be affected again if gas has to be rationed. Read more

While Moscow blamed various technical problems for the supply cuts, Brussels accused Russia of using the energy as a weapon to blackmail the bloc and retaliate against Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, physical flows via Nord Stream 1 dropped to 14.4 million kilowatt hours per hour (kWh/h) between 07:00 and 08:00 GMT, compared to around 28 million kWh/ha the day before, less than a week after the restart of the pipeline after a 10-day maintenance period.

Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s grid regulator, said the country could still avoid a gas shortage that would lead to its rationing.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy and its biggest importer of Russian gas, has been particularly hard hit by supply cuts since mid-June, with its gas importer Uniper (UN01.DE) necessitating a bailout of the EU as a result. State of 15 billion euros (15.21 billion dollars).

Uniper and Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) both said they received less gas from Gazprom than in recent days.

Mueller made another appeal to households and industry to conserve gasoline and avoid rationing.

“The crucial thing is saving gas,” Mueller said. “I would like to hear fewer complaints, but the reports (from industries saying) that we as a sector are contributing to this,” he told the Deutschlandfunk channel.

German industry groups, however, have warned that companies will have no choice but to cut production to achieve greater savings, pointing to the slow pace of approval for the switch from natural gas to other more polluting fuels. Read more

Germany is currently in phase 2 of a three-stage emergency gas plan, with the final “emergency” phase to be launched once rationing can no longer be avoided.

“If you were to ask me if (a gas shortage) is imminent, then I would say that if flows stay at 20% and if we can still add storage facilities in the days and weeks to come, then we don’t have no gas shortage yet, which would be the prerequisite for phase 3,” Mueller said.

($1 = 0.9862 euros)

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Writing by Paul Carrel and Christoph Steitz, editing by Rachel More, Maria Sheahan, Elaine Hardcastle and Tomasz Janowski

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