Russia again pumps Nord Stream gas to Europe – but it’s not enough

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

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  • Europe tries to fill its gas tanks before winter
  • Even before maintenance, pipeline flows were reduced
  • Nord Stream 1 now flows at pre-maintenance levels
  • The EU has asked member states to reduce their gas consumption

July 21 (Reuters) – Russia resumed pumping gas through its biggest pipeline to Europe on Thursday after a 10-day outage, allaying some of Europe’s immediate supply fears, but not enough to end the threat of rationing to deal with potential winter shortages.

Supply via Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, was interrupted for maintenance on July 11 but, even before that interruption, flows had been reduced to 40% of the pipeline’s capacity in a dispute caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Thursday’s flows had returned to that 40% capacity level, Nord Stream figures showed, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that flows could be further reduced or even stopped.

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The resumption of Nord Stream supplies at levels that remain well below pipeline capacity means that Germany, which is particularly dependent on Russian fuel, and other European economies are still struggling to find enough gas for the ‘winter.

“Given the missing 60% and the political instability, there is still no reason to give the green light, the German network regulator Klaus Mueller wrote on Twitter.

Gas flows via other pipeline routes, such as Ukraine, have also declined since Russia invaded its neighbor in February in what Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

Germany and several other states have already activated the first stages of contingency plans which, in some cases, could lead to rationing. Greece said on Thursday it would implement rotating power cuts as a last resort if necessary. Read more

The EU is aiming for gas storage facilities to be 80% full by November 1, while some EU states have higher targets. Stocks are now about two-thirds full, with a slowing filling rate. https://tmsnrt.rs/3Ba2N2O

Gazprom (GAZP.MM), which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports via pipeline, did not respond to a request for comment.

In an attempt to avoid a winter supply shortage, the European Commission has proposed a voluntary target for all EU states to reduce gas consumption by 15% from August to March compared to the same period in 2016. -2021. The Commission’s proposal would allow Brussels to make the target mandatory in the event of a supply emergency.

RUSSIA IS “BLACKING US”

Several southern EU states have opposed the plan, which needs a large majority of support in the 27-nation bloc to go ahead. Portugal said it would hamper power generation during an extreme drought. Spain and Greece have also expressed their opposition.

“Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, adding that Europe must prepare for the worst now.

The Kremlin says Russia is a reliable energy supplier and blames sanctions for curtailed flows.

Gazprom, controlled by the Kremlin, had reduced gas exports via this route in June to 40% of its capacity, blaming the sanctions for delaying the return of a pipeline turbine that Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) was servicing in Canada.

It was reported this week that this turbine was on its way back, but Gazprom said on Wednesday it had not received documentation to reinstall it and said the return of the turbine and maintenance of other machinery was needed to keep the pipeline running smoothly.

Putin added to Europe’s concerns over supplies via Nord Stream 1 by saying on Wednesday that streams could be further reduced or stopped because the quality of maintained equipment could not be assured and saying that other equipment needed maintenance. .

Uniper (UN01.DE), which the German government is scrambling to bail out due to the energy crisis, said Russia delivered about 40% of contracted gas volumes.

Austria’s OMV said Gazprom had signaled it would deliver around half of agreed volumes on Thursday.

Italy’s ENI said it would receive around 36 million cubic meters (mcm) per day of gas from Gazprom, up more than a third from levels received during the maintenance shutdown and at a level close to pre-maintenance levels.

European states have sought alternative supplies, although the global gas market was stretched even before the Ukraine crisis, with fuel demand recovering from the pandemic-induced slowdown. Read more

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Reporting by Eileen Soreng, Bharat Govind Gautam, Brijesh Patel and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru, Nina Chestney in London, François Murphy in Vienna, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt, Rachel More and Kirsti Knolle in Berlin; Editing by William Mallard and Edmund Blair

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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