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EU prepares for winter as Nord Stream flows cut

July 27, 2022

Russian gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been cut to just 20% of capacity. But the EU's energy commissioner has told DW that contingency plans for the winter are already being formulated.

Nord Stream 1 terminal at Lubmin
Russia has been gradually reducing its gas supply through the pipeline over the past few monthsImage: Hannibal Hanschke/REUTERS

'Russia is not a reliable partner'

Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom carried out its planned reduction in deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany on Wednesday, bringing the flow of fuel down to 20% of capacity.

But European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson made reassurances that the EU "will survive this winter" in an interview with DW with Wednesday.

Germany's Federal Network Agency — the regulatory office for electricity, gas, telecommunications, post and railways — also expressed optimism that the country's gas storage facilities could still be filled by the beginning of winter, even at the reduced delivery rate.

Germany dismisses Gazprom's turbine excuse

Russia has pointed to a faulty turbine as the cause for the reduction in gas supplies through Nord Stream 1.

Gazprom's deputy chief executive, Vitaly Markelov, told Rossiya 24 TV: "We had counted on receiving one repaired engine from Siemens [Energy] as far back as May, but as of today we haven't got this engine."

German government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann dismissed the claims coming from Russia, calling it instead a "power play."

"As before, we see no technical cause," she said in Berlin. "From our point of view, there is nothing standing in the way of transporting the turbine to Russia."

This was also supported by Siemens Energy, which had been repairing the turbine at a facility in Canada. It said the outstanding paperwork was Gazprom's responsibility.

"The German authorities provided Siemens Energy with all the necessary documents for the export of the turbine to Russia. What is missing, however, are the customs documents for import to Russia. Gazprom, as the customer, is required to provide those," the company said.

Gas warfare? Gazprom announces further cuts in gas flow to EU

'Preemptive measures' are necessary

"We are prepared," Simson told DW.

"We know that with the help of reliable gas suppliers, with the storage level full enough to provide alternative gas supplies also when the heating season is at its peak," the EU will make it through the winter, she said.

She also expressed support for the EU's emergency deal for members to reduce gas consumption by 15% to provide a safety margin in case Russia turns off its supplies entirely.

"Preemptive measures will help us get through this winter with a smaller impact on our GDP and smaller impact on our industry than doing nothing right now," she said.

"For households, it is important to know that they are protected consumers," Simson said. "So, even under the worst case scenario, when we will lose some LNG shipments because of global competition and if there will be an extremely cold winter with long cold spells, we will take care of our households."

ab/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)