Russia will cut gas supplies through its largest pipeline to Germany to just a fifth of its capacity from Wednesday in a move that threatens to keep the continent short of vital supplies before winter.
Russia’s state-owned Gazprom said on Monday it would halve existing flows on its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 20 percent of capacity, having already cut it to 40 percent last month. European politicians denounced Russia’s “weaponization” of gas supplies.
Gazprom blamed the availability of turbines for the cuts, but a spokeswoman for Germany’s economy ministry said there was “no technical reason to cut supplies”.
European capitals will interpret Gazprom’s move as showing Russia its willingness to use gas in response to sanctions linked to its invasion of Ukraine.
Europe is already struggling to fill gas storage facilities, which has led to warnings Legalization of the industry And concerns about a shortage of local users.
Gazprom has claimed that volumes will have to be reduced further due to maintenance of turbines used to pump gas through the pipeline, but gas industry analysts said this would not cause a sharp drop in flows.
Laurent Ruseckas, an analyst at S&P Global Commodity Insights, said Gazprom’s move “fits into a pattern that has been shown for months and months of continued cuts to pipeline flows to keep supplies tight and complicate storage.”
European gas prices jumped after Gazprom indicated that the volume of gas flowing to the continent would decrease. It rose 10 per cent on Monday to trade at €177 per megawatt-hour – five times higher than the price a year ago.
The company said gas flows will be reduced to 33 million cubic meters of gas per day starting at 4 a.m. GMT on Wednesday, down from the full capacity of more than 160 million cubic meters and half of the current flows. Gazprom resumed Partial gas supply through NS1 Last week after a break for repairs.
The state-run gas monopoly said it was cutting off flow because it stopped turbines for maintenance, after the Russian president threatened. Vladimir Putin last week in Tehran to reduce sizes.
The additional drop in Russian gas flows comes as European energy users grapple with a cost-of-living crisis and the industry battles to stay in business, in large part due to rising gas prices.
There were fears in Europe that Russia would halt gas exports altogether, prompting the European Commission to tell EU member states to do so. Reduce their consumption by 15 percent during the winter.
Moscow blamed last month’s blackout on the need to repair turbines that were sent to Canada for repair. Canada this month scrapped its sanctions on Gazprom’s supply of equipment to allow Siemens Energy, the company that repairs the turbines, to return it.
Analysts in Berlin and the gas market say Russia has used the turbine issue as an excuse to cut flows.
Gazprom blamed Siemens Energy, the supplier of the turbines, for the problems. She said the company still had “open questions” about British and European sanctions.
Additional reporting by Joe Miller in Frankfurt