As announced, the Russian energy giant Gazprom further reduced its gas deliveries to Germany through the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline on Thursday night – and Russia does not rule out a complete shutdown of the most important supply line for Germany.
The Russian ambassador to the EU stressed on Thursday at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg that the line could be completely shut down because of the problems with repairing turbines in Canada. “I think that would be a disaster for Germany,” he said, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant. In Germany, the debate about saving energy is now getting louder.
The gas flows from Nord Stream 1 were throttled yesterday from 11 p.m. to around 40 percent of the maximum output, according to the gas supply management report of the Federal Network Agency on Thursday (as of 10 a.m.). Nevertheless: “The gas supply in Germany is stable.”
The authority is monitoring the situation very closely and is in constant contact with the companies in the gas industry. The throttling of the gas volume coincides with the visit of Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Kyiv. He arrived in Kyiv on Thursday morning with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck called the situation serious. According to his ministry, the secure supply of gas is still guaranteed. “Currently, the quantities can be procured on the market, albeit at high prices,” said a spokeswoman on request. The Ministry is monitoring things very closely.
Contrary to Gazprom’s statement that the reason for the cutback was delays in repair work, Habeck suspects a political decision behind it.
The Federal Network Agency also says: “We cannot confirm a causal connection between the missing gas compressor on the Russian side and the large reduction in deliveries at the moment.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected this. Rather, the problems were related to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West, he said. “All we know is that there were real problems with the turbines and the repairs, some turbines aren’t coming back, they’re being held up somewhere.”
The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Wednesday that it would again reduce gas delivery volumes through Nord Stream 1 to Germany. From night to Thursday, only a maximum of 67 million cubic meters should be pumped through the pipeline every day.
According to Gazprom boss Alexej Miller, there is no solution in sight for the throttling. “The turbine is in the factory, Siemens cannot pick it up, and not all other turbines fit,” Miller said in St. Petersburg. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was shut down as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, is theoretically ready for use.
Gazprom claims to play by its own rules when supplying gas to other countries. “Our product, our rules,” Miller said on . “We don’t play by rules we didn’t make.”
Gazprom had already announced on Tuesday that it would reduce the previously planned daily volume by around 40 percent from 167 million to 100 million cubic meters of gas per day and pointed to delays in the repair of gas compressors.
The energy technology group Siemens Energy then announced that a gas turbine overhauled in Canada could not currently be returned from Montréal due to the Russian sanctions. The recent reduction to 67 million cubic meters means a throttling of around 60 percent within two days.
Miller reiterated his company’s reliability in energy supplies. But he added that this applies “to the friends of Russia”.
From the point of view of the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, the throttling is a warning signal. “Unfortunately, Russia is fueling uncertainty and driving up gas prices,” he told the Rheinische Post.
If Gazprom only delivered 40 percent through Nord Stream 1 for weeks, Germany would have a problem, said Müller: “That would make our situation significantly worse.”
In view of the decline, Economics Minister Habeck called again for energy saving. In a video circulated on Twitter, he appealed: “Now is the time to do this. Every kilowatt hour helps in this situation.”
Federal Network Agency President Müller spoke out in favor of lowering the minimum temperature in apartments. “Tenancy law stipulates that the landlord must adjust the heating system during the heating period so that a minimum temperature of between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius is reached.
The state could temporarily lower the heating requirements for landlords. We are discussing this with politicians,” he told the Rheinische Post.
The President of the German Tenants’ Association (DMB), Lukas Siebenkotten, rejected the proposal. “I think the proposal to lower the heating requirements for a limited time is too undifferentiated,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group.
The Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) called for the minimum temperature in apartments to be reduced by up to six degrees Celsius in the event of a gas shortage: “Should gas deliveries to Germany be further restricted significantly in the future and a shortage situation arise, the legal framework should be as follows be adjusted so that further reductions in the minimum temperature to a maximum lower limit of 18 degrees during the day and 16 degrees at night become possible,” said GdW President Axel Gedaschko to the newspapers of the Funke media group. Currently, a minimum temperature of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius must be guaranteed in winter.
Since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine at the end of February, the supply of gas to Europe from Russia has been considered endangered. Since then, Germany and other European countries have been trying to reduce their dependence on Russian gas by purchasing more gas from other countries.
Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark have already stopped receiving gas from Russia. They had refused to switch to a new payment system ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin at the end of March.
EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni again warned that the European economy would shrink if Russian gas supplies were stopped. A delivery stop would lead to a decline in economic output at least this year, Gentiloni said on the sidelines of a meeting of euro finance ministers.
For Germany, Nord Stream 1 is the main supply pipeline with Russian gas. The Yamal-Europe line, which runs through Poland, had previously not been filled. Gazprom had already throttled transit via Ukraine in mid-May.