Russia temporarily halts gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream 1

Russia has drastically cut gas supplies to Europe in recent weeks.

Odd Anderson | AFP | Getty Images

Russian energy giant Gazprom halted gas flows to Europe through a major pipeline on Wednesday, citing maintenance work on its only remaining compressor.

Gas flows via Nord Stream 1, which runs from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, are scheduled to be suspended from August 31 to September 3.

The shutdown was announced in advance, with Gazprom announcing in mid-August that gas flows would be suspended for three days for maintenance work.

Gazprom previously said gas transportation would resume at a rate of 33 million cubic meters per day once maintenance work is completed “provided no malfunctions are identified”.

The temporary halt in supplies reflects a deepening gas dispute between Russia and the European Union and underscores both the risk of a recession and a winter shortage.

Russia has dramatically reduced its gas supplies to Europe in recent weeks, with flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline operating at just 20% of the agreed volume.

Moscow has previously blamed faulty and delayed equipment for the sharp drop in gas supplies.

Germany, however, sees the supply cut as a political maneuver meant to sow uncertainty across the bloc and drive up energy prices amid the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine.

European policymakers are currently battling to secure gas supplies in underground facilities to have enough fuel to keep homes warm in the colder months.

These gas injections developed faster than expected.

“Full Bunkering Mode”

“Europe is in full bunker mode and taking no risks with Russian supplies as winter approaches,” Wei Xiong, senior analyst at energy consultancy Rystad Energy, said in a research note. .

The latest data compiled by industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe shows that overall EU storage levels are on average over 80% full, while German underground storage is nearly 84% full.

Rystad’s Xiong said gas storage in Europe was only 66% full during the same period in 2021, “although the cost would have been significantly lower”.

Germany, until recently, bought more than half of its gas from Russia. And the government is now battling to shore up winter gas supplies, fearing that Moscow will soon completely shut off the taps.

He had projected gas storage levels to reach 75% by September 1, with next federally mandated targets set at 85% by October 1 and 95% by November 1.

“The early injections provide some relief to concerns about Russian supply disruptions,” Xiong said.

“The risk to European winter supplies remains however – given weak transmissions from Russia and intensified maintenance of Nord Stream 1, storage levels could be vulnerable.”

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