Russia halted gas supplies via a major pipeline to Europe on Wednesday, citing a need for maintenance on its only remaining compressor.
The outage on Nord Stream 1 meant no gas would flow to Germany until 3 September, said Gazprom, the Russian state energy company. The Nord Stream 1 operator’s website showed zero flow in the pipeline.
Unlike July’s 10-day maintenance of Nord Stream 1, the upcoming work was announced less than two weeks in advance and is being carried out by Gazprom, not Nord Stream AG, focusing on the last operating turbine at the station.
Moscow, which slashed supply via Nord Stream 1 to 40% of capacity in June and to 20% in July, blames maintenance issues and sanctions that it says prevent the return and installation of equipment.
Despite saying the shutdown is needed for maintenance on Nord Stream 1, Russia has also cut off supply to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland completely, and reduced flows via other pipelines since invading Ukraine.
As Germany seeks to replace Russian gas imports by mid-2024, its economy minister, Robert Habeck, said this month that Nord Stream was “fully operational” and there were no technical issues as claimed by Moscow.
Klaus Mueller, president of Germany’s network regulator, said Europe’s largest economy was making better progress than expected in filling its gas storage facilities, but did not have enough to get through winter.
The reduced flows via Nord Stream have complicated efforts across Europe to fill up vital gas storage facilities, a key strategic goal to make it through the winter months, when governments fear Russia may halt flows altogether.
At 83.26%, Germany is already within reach of an 85% target for its national gas storage tanks by 1 October but has warned reaching 95% by 1 November would be a stretch unless companies and households drastically cut consumption.
For the European Union as a whole, the storage level is 79.94%, just short of an 80% target by 1 October when heating starts to be needed.
Some Europeans are voluntarily cutting their energy consumption, including limiting their use of electrical appliances and showering at work to save money while companies are bracing for possible rationing.