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Russia halts gas flows to Germany again.

Business|Russia halts gas flows to Germany again.

Part of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in Lubmin, Germany.
Credit…Annegret Hilse/Reuters

Stanley Reed

Gazprom, Russias government-owned energy giant, shut down gas flows early Wednesday through Nord Stream 1, the critical pipeline that connects Russia to Germany, raising fresh worries about European energy supplies.

Gazprom said the cutoff was temporary and was essential for maintenance, even though German government and energy executives contemplate it to be politically motivated. After three days, Gazprom said, the pipeline will restart so long as no malfunctions are identified. It said flows would resume at 20 percent of capacity, exactly the same reduced level it has provided since late July.

Energy markets will undoubtedly be closely watching to see if supplies do resume as scheduled. In July, the pipeline was turn off for 10 days, again for maintenance.

Like other Europe, Germany is rushing to fill gas storage facilities before winter as insurance against cutoffs by Russia. The Russian government is apparently attempting to obstruct that effort and also create uncertainty over future gas deliveries.

Up to now, the results have already been mixed. German gas storage facilities reach a lot more than 83 percent of capacity and appearance likely to meet up with the governments goal of 90 percent by Nov. 1.

However, the cutoffs of flows and worries about supplies in the coming months have driven gas prices in Europe to record levels in recent weeks, inflicting a few of the economic damage that the efforts to store up gas are targeted at preventing.

Gazprom isn’t just aiming at Germany. On Tuesday, Engie, a big French utility, said that Gazprom had informed the business that it had been cutting gas supplies over a contract dispute. Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we should plan the worst case scenario of a whole interruption of supplies, Frances energy transition minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, told France Inter radio, Reuters reported.

On Monday, Uniper, a German utility that’s among Europes largest gas buyers and suppliers, said that it had already exhausted a 9 billion euro credit facility from the German government and was requesting 4 billion more.

Uniper said that with contracted supplies from Gazprom down 80 percent, it had been needing to buy gas available at significantly higher prices to provide customers, resulting in losses that it said exceed 100 million each day.

Uniper decided to a bailout in July that could are the government going for a stake in the business, but further steps including approval from europe are essential before it could be put fully set up.

The companys leader, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, said in a statement that Uniper was dealing with the German government on a permanent treatment for this emergency. Otherwise, he warned, the business would not have the ability to fulfill what he called its system-critical work as a supplier of gas to municipalities and factories.

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