March 22, 2023

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Germans demand energy conservation as Russia cuts gas flow to Europe

Germans demand energy conservation as Russia cuts gas flow to Europe

The German government has appealed to the population to conserve energy after Russia cut off supplies through an important pipeline in the Baltic Sea that takes gas to Europe.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said the situation was “grave” and that businesses and citizens should do what they could to save energy. said in video call Posted on Twitter.

The state-controlled Russian gas export company Gazprom has reduced flows through the Nord Stream pipeline by 60 percent in recent days, citing technical problems. But Germany claims the move is political amid rising tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia Invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, other countries have reported problems with Russian gas supplies. Italy, Slovakia and Austria said they had seen a reduction in gas flows, or Gazprom warned that supplies would be cut off in the coming days.

Russia’s supply restrictions came at the head of the leaders of Germany, Italy and France Visited Kyiv on Thursday In a show of support for the Ukrainian government nearly four months into the war.

EU politicians have accused Russia of actively weaponizing its role as one of the world’s largest Oil and gas producerswith growing fears that he could retaliate against European Union sanctions by shutting off the gas tap to Europe.

Gazprom has already halted gas flows to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark after refusing to comply with the new ruble payment system ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

European gas prices, already near record levels, rose more than 70 percent this week in response to the latest supply restrictions, reaching 146 euros per megawatt-hour on Wednesday – an increase of nearly 30 percent on the day.

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Gazprom blamed technical issues for the drop in gas flows. The company said some Nord Stream gas turbines, made by Siemens Energy, underwent maintenance and repairs in Montreal but could not be returned to Russia due to Canadian sanctions against Gazprom.

But Germany rejected this version of events. Habek said late Wednesday that Gazprom’s explanation was an “excuse” and reduced flows It was a “political act”.

Putin is doing what we feared he would do from the start. He reduces the volume of gas, not all at once but gradually.

This was echoed by the German federal energy regulator, who said he could not establish “any causal relationship between the missing gas compressor on the Russian side and the significant reduction in supplies”.

The decline in gas flows began on Tuesday when Russia reduced the daily volume delivered to Germany via Nord Stream by 40 percent, from 167 million to 100 million cubic metres. Since then, the volume has decreased to 67 million cubic meters.

Russia’s envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, warned on Thursday that Nord Stream could shut down completely if turbine problems persist, with serious consequences for Germany.

But Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Thursday there was “no solution” because only the plant in Montreal was capable of repairing turbines.

Nearly all of Nord Stream’s other turbines were on the verge of needing maintenance, Miller said, speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, “but we can’t send them to Canada.”

Miller said that the rise in gas prices compensated for the decline in Gazprom’s exports to Europe and Turkey. ‚ÄúPrice has grown. . . many times. Excuse me, but if I said we weren’t angry with anyone, I wouldn’t lie.”

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Germany is not the only European country with supply problems. Italian gas shipments fell 15 percent on Wednesday, and Italian energy company Eni said the shortage worsened on Thursday. Slovakia reported a 30 percent drop in flows, and Austrian energy company OMV said Gazprom had told it delivery volumes would be reduced.

Eni said it had asked Gazprom to deliver additional supplies on Thursday to make up for the previous day’s cut, but Gazprom said it would provide only 65 percent of Eni’s order, or about 32 million cubic metres.

Eni said Gazprom blamed the shortages on problems at its plant in Portovaya, which feeds Nord Stream.

In Austria, which imports about 80 percent of its gas from Russia, OMV said that despite lower flows, demand could be covered by using existing stores and supplies from the spot market. Slovakian gas supplier SBB said it was able to diversify its supply so that the shortage does not affect customers.

Habeck said Germany had enough gas at the moment because it was buying more on the spot market.

But analysts cautioned that while immediate needs could be met, filling storage before peak winter demand would be more difficult if Russian supplies continued to decline.

Additional reporting by Amy Kazmin in Rome, Sam Jones in Zurich, Joe Miller in Frankfurt, Raphael Minder in Warsaw and Andy Pounds in Brussels.