Russian gas flows to Europe fall, filling fields difficult By Reuters


©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Facilities of ‘Nord Stream 1’ in Lubmin, Germany March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) – Russian gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline fell further on Thursday and Moscow said further delays in repairs could cut off all flows, curbing the Europe’s race to replenish its gas stocks.

Gas flows have been affected by the visit of the leaders of Germany, Italy and France to Ukraine, which is pushing for an acceleration of arms deliveries to fight Russian forces and wants support to join the ‘European Union.

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom (MCX:) said it was cutting gas supplies for the second time in two days via Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic to Germany. The latest measure reduces supply to just 40% of pipeline capacity.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the supply cuts were unpremeditated and linked to maintenance issues, referring to earlier comments that Russia could not ensure the return of the equipment sent to Canada for repair.

Germany said Russia’s excuse was technically “baseless” and its aim was to drive up gas prices. Italy said Moscow could use the issue to exert political pressure.

Wholesale gas prices in the Netherlands, the European benchmark, rose around 30% on Thursday afternoon.

Russia’s ambassador to the European Union told state news agency RIA Novosti that flows through the pipeline could be completely suspended due to turbine repair problems in Canada.

Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, the state-controlled company that has a Russian pipeline gas export monopoly, said Western sanctions made it impossible to return equipment from Canada for the Portovaya compressor station.

EUROPEAN STORES

Nord Stream 1 has the capacity to pump some 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year to the European Union, which last year imported some 140 billion m3 of gas from Russia through pipelines.

Germany, like other European countries, is rushing to fill its gas storage facilities so that they are 80% full by October and 90% full by November, before winter sets in. Now the warehouses are at 52%.

Reducing flows via Nord Stream 1 would make this task more difficult, according to the head of the German energy regulator.

“Maybe we can get through the boreal summer, because the heating season is over. But it’s imperative to fill the storage facilities to get through the winter,” Klaus Mueller of the energy regulator told Thursday. Rheinische Post.

Uniper (ETR), Germany’s biggest importer of Russian gas, said supplies were down a quarter from agreed volumes, but it could cover the rest from other sources. Electricity producer RWE (ETR:) said it had seen restrictions over the past two days.

The European Union is aiming for gas storage facilities in the 27 countries to be 80% full by November.

According to analysts at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:), the latest supply squeeze could mean North West Europe storage is only 88% full by the end of October, or 1 billion cubic meters less than planned, at 90%.

(Reporting Reuters, Giuseppe Fonte in Rome, Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich in Vienna, Jan Lopatka in Prague, Madelaine Chambers in Berlin and Nina Chestney in London; Editing in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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