Germans have been told to use less energy after Russia cut gas supplies through the key Nord Stream pipeline by 60 per cent over ‘technical problems’.
State-owned Gazprom announced on Tuesday that it was cutting gas flows through the undersea Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 40 per cent, then, a day later, announced a further cut that brings the overall reduction to about 60 per cent.
In both cases, it cited a technical problem, saying that Canadian sanctions over the war in Ukraine prevented German partner Siemens Energy from delivering equipment that had been sent for overhaul.
The German government rejected that reasoning, saying that maintenance should not have been an issue until the autumn and the Russian decision was a political gambit to sow uncertainty and push up prices.
Russian president Vladimir Putin ‘is doing what was to be feared from the beginning: He is reducing the volume of gas, not in one go but step by step,’ German vice chancellor Robert Habeck said in a video posted by his ministry on Twitter on Wednesday night.
He pointed to earlier Russian moves to cut supplies to Bulgaria, Denmark and others.
German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has urged residents to use less energy after Russia cut gas supplies through the key Nord Stream pipeline by 60 per cent over ‘technical problems’
The reduction in gas flows comes as Germany and the rest of Europe try to reduce their dependence on Russian energy imports.
Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, gets about 35 per cent of its gas to power industry and generate electricity from Russia.
The news of the reductions sent short-term natural gas prices sharply higher in Europe. Month-ahead spot prices rose 13 per cent on Thursday to 139.10 euros (£118) per kilowatt hour, up 40 per cent since Monday.
Habeck, who is also the economy minister, already had launched a campaign for people to save energy last week. After the Gazprom announcements, he hammered home the message in Wednesday night’s video.
‘Gas is coming to Europe – we have no supply problem, but the volumes of gas must be acquired on the market and it will get more expensive,’ Habeck said.
He said the government is prepared, and noted that it has enacted legislation requiring gas storage to be filled.
He lauded the willingness of Germans and business to save energy and store gas.
‘Now is the time to do so,’ he said. ‘Every kilowatt hour helps in this situation. It is a situation that is serious, but not a situation that endangers supply security in Germany.’
State-owned Gazprom announced on Tuesday that it was cutting gas flows through the undersea Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 40 per cent, then, a day later, announced a further cut that brings the overall reduction to about 60 per cent
The head of Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator on Tuesday warned Gazprom’s move to cut supplies was a warning signal that could cause problems for Europe’s biggest country in winter.
‘It would significantly worsen our situation,’ regulator chief Klaus Mueller told the Rheinische Post daily.
‘We could perhaps get through the summer as the heating season is over. But it is imperative that we fill the storage facilities to get through the winter,’ he said.
Asked if he feared that Russia was serious about freezing gas supplies, Mueller said: ‘It has so far been Russia’s logic to want to continue selling gas to Germany. But we can’t rule anything out.’
As Germany tries to reduce its dependency on Russian energy, it is speeding up plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and Mueller said he would welcome a floating terminal at Lubmin, on the Baltic Sea. read more
‘A floating terminal at Lubmin is being looked at, there are talks at the moment,’ said Mueller, adding the Baltic Sea, as well as North Sea, was being considered to ensure sufficient capacity supply in southern Germany with gas from the coast.
Klaus Mueller, the head of Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator, on Tuesday warned Gazprom’s move to cut supplies was a warning signal that could cause problems for Europe’s biggest country in winter