FILE PHOTO: Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke//File Photo

After the maintenance of Nord Stream 1, the gas supply through the German-Russian gas pipeline started again on Thursday morning. Gas is flowing again, a spokesman for Nord Stream AG told the German Press Agency.

Nord Stream then officially announced in the morning that they had “successfully completed all planned maintenance work within the planned period”. It will take some time before the full transport capacity is reached.

According to the President of the Federal Network Agency Klaus Müller, the gas delivery volume announced for Thursday via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is still below the volume before maintenance. The announced amount remained at around 530 gigawatt hours per day, Müller tweeted on Thursday morning. That corresponds to about 30 percent utilization. A spokesman for Nord Stream AG had spoken of announced volumes at the pre-maintenance level when utilization was around 40 percent.

According to Nord Stream AG, natural gas flowed between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., which corresponded to energy of more than 29.28 gigawatt hours (GWh). That was about as much as the company had previously promised. In the hour that followed, the value increased again slightly to almost 29.3 GWh and also exceeded the volume planned for this period. Figures from both reception points in Lubmin in western Pomerania showed that the values ​​remained roughly constant from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

In the first hour of the gas day, i.e. between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., the level remained below the announcement due to the ramp-up. A Nord Stream spokesman explained that this difference will be offset against quantities that were incurred before the work was shut down a week and a half ago after the actual delivery stop.

In his tweet on Thursday morning, Müller also pointed out that the announcements regarding the delivery quantities – the so-called nominations – are binding for the following two hours, and information will be given for the following day in the afternoon.

Despite the resumption of gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, energy suppliers in Germany see no reason to sound the all-clear. “We will no longer be able to rely on a permanent and reliable supply from Russia,” said Kerstin Andrae, Chairwoman of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). The fact that gas is currently flowing again can only contribute to “temporary calming down”.

With a view to the coming winter and the next few years, everything must be done to set up alternative gas import structures and the rapid expansion of renewable energies, Andrae said. “It’s good that there is a broad debate about energy saving.”

But not only private consumers are in demand here. “There is also potential for savings in industry that can be leveraged,” explained Andrae. A European perspective on the issue of security of supply is also important.

The Greens also believe that a complete stop to deliveries by Russia is possible after the gas supply through the Baltic Sea pipeline has restarted. The economic policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Dieter Janecek, told the Düsseldorf-based “Rheinische Post” (Friday edition), “with a tremendous effort, we are preparing for all scenarios, including a complete Russian gas supply stop”.

The top priority is to save gas in industry and households in order to fill the gas storage tanks as much as possible for the coming winter and at the same time to reduce the demand for gas by up to 20 percent in the short term. Germany is working closely with its European partners on this. “Norway and the Netherlands are ready to supply additional gas in the short term to replace Russian gas,” said the Green energy politician.

He also believes that further steps at EU level are necessary: ​​”In order to be able to lower prices when shopping again, we are promoting the European Union to form a buyers’ cartel so that we can speak with one voice.”

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt expressed similar skepticism. “We are still in a state of complete energy insecurity,” said Dobrindt on Thursday at the closed meeting of the CSU members of the Bundestag in the Banz monastery. The current level of Russian gas supplies is not enough to avoid a gas shortage in the winter, Dobrindt said. “There is still a lot of homework to be done by the federal government,” he said.

The blackmail of the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin continues. “Other delivery capacities would be possible – they are deliberately not taken,” said Dobrindt.

According to Federal Network Agency head Müller, if around 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity were to be utilized in the next few weeks, the worst fears would not be confirmed. But Putin recently made statements that could indicate a drop towards 20 percent.

“We are currently at the mercy of Russia because they decide how much gas Nord Stream 1 will forward to us,” said Müller. Savings and purchasing from other sources are therefore all the more important.

It had been feared that after the ten-day maintenance, Moscow could completely open the gas tap and thus further exacerbate the energy crisis. After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the West imposed sanctions on Russia. Russia, in turn, had completely or partially stopped gas supplies to European countries.

In its forecast calculations, the Federal Network Agency assumes an average winter of 2022/23. It also assumes that the first own liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals on the North Sea will be operational from January 2023.

However, if the winter gets cold and the terminals do not go into operation quickly enough, “this would have to be compensated for by additional savings in order to avoid a gas shortage or to avoid filling levels that are too low in spring,” warned Müller.

Other gas customers also showed some signs of easing on Thursday, at least for the time being. Italian utility Eni said Russia’s energy giant Gazprom had announced an increase in daily volumes.

Italy is also heavily dependent on the energy resource – before the war almost 40 percent of imports came from Russia. For a long time, more than half of the total gas consumption in Germany came from Russian sources.

The delivery volume in the coming months is likely to have a major impact on the German economy, for example, but also on private customers, as it is likely to affect gas prices.

The database of the Gas Infrastructure Europe network for Tuesday (July 19) gave the last storage status for the entire Federal Republic of Germany at around 65.1 percent. In the largest German storage facility in Rehden, Lower Saxony, it was just under 34.7 percent.