BERLIN/Frankfurt – On Wednesday, Russia delivered less gas to Europe in a further extension of an energy standoff between Moscow and the European Union that would make it difficult and expensive for the bloc to fill storage ahead of the winter heating season.
The supply cuts marked by Gazprom (GAZP.MM) earlier this week have reduced the capacity of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – the major delivery route to Europe for Russian gas to a mere fifth of its total capacity.
A day earlier, EU countries approved a weakening emergency plan to curb gas demand after a deal to limit cuts for some countries, hoping lower consumption would offset Moscow’s supply. In case of closure, the effect will be reduced.
While Moscow has blamed various technical issues for the supply cuts, Brussels accused Russia of using energy as a weapon to blackmail the bloc and retaliate for Western sanctions on its invasion of Ukraine. have put.
On Wednesday, physical flow through Nord Stream 1 rose from 14.4 million kilowatt hours per hour (kWh/h) between 0700 and 0800 GMT to about 28 million kWh/h a day earlier, a scheduled 10-day maintenance period.
Germany, Europe’s top economy and its most significant importer of Russian gas, has been particularly hit by supply cuts since mid-June, with its gas importer Uniper (UN01.DE) requiring a 15 billion euro ($15.21 billion) state bailout as a result.
Uniper and Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) both said they received less gas from Gazprom than in recent days. Mueller issued another plea to households and industries to save gas and avoid rationing.
“The crucial thing is to save gas,” Mueller said. “I would like to hear fewer complaints but reports (from industries saying) we as a sector are contributing to this,” he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
However, German industry groups warned companies might have no choice but to cut production to achieve more significant savings, pointing to slow approval for switching from natural gas to other, more polluting fuels.
Germany is currently at 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 asked me whether it (a gas shortage) is imminent, then I would say that if flows remain at 20% and if we can still add to storage facilities in the coming days and weeks, then we do not yet have a physical gas shortage, which would be the prerequisite for Phase 3,” Mueller said.