Gazprom resumes gas flows to Germany through Nord Stream 1 pipeline


BEXBACH, Germany — Natural gas started flowing once more through the principle pipeline from Russia to Germany on Thursday, allaying European fears {that a} shut-off throughout scheduled upkeep would turn into everlasting however not resolving broader considerations that Russia is holding the continent’s power hostage.

Gas flows resumed through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline at 6 a.m., in accordance to information offered by German operator Gascade, however at lower than half its capability. The gas had been turned off to accommodate 10 days of labor on the pipeline below the Baltic Sea.

“We are in the process of resuming the gas transportation,” mentioned a spokesman for Nord Stream who answered the corporate’s media hotline however declined to give a reputation, citing protocol.

It avoids — at the least for now — what officers had described as a “nightmare scenario” for Europe’s largest economic system, with affect all through the continent and all over the world.

But whereas the resumption offers some aid, European international locations are nonetheless bracing for the worst. Fears stay excessive that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use gas as leverage in opposition to Western international locations backing Kyiv as he continues his assault on Ukraine.

Despite a rush to diversify, Germany will depend on Russia for a few third of its gas provide, and France does for a few fifth.

Russian state power firm Gazprom has considerably lowered provide to European Union international locations in latest months, notably reducing the quantity of gas flowing through the Nord Stream to 40 p.c in June. It was unclear whether or not that had been lowered additional on Thursday.

“Our dispatch is awaiting 40 percent, the level that was in place before the maintenance,” mentioned Uta Kull, a spokeswoman for Gascade. However, Klaus Müller, head of Germany’s community regulator, said only 30 percent was expected, citing “nominations” on the pipeline, an indicator from the exporter on how a lot quantity shall be despatched.

As it has lowered provides, Gazprom has sought to invoke “force majeure” — a authorized provision used to launch a celebration from contractual commitments within the case of utmost occasions similar to conflict, storms or fires.

With costs excessive and gas storage ranges comparatively low, the European Commission launched on Wednesday a proposal for international locations within the bloc to reduce their gas usage over the winter by 15 percent.

Germany, probably the most uncovered international locations due to its dependence on Russian power, is already within the second part of a gas disaster plan.

German customers are being urged to save power in any means they will, together with taking cold showers and turning off lights. Hot water has been turned off in municipal buildings, and fountains lie nonetheless. Some residential landlords have mentioned they could flip down the warmth this winter.

The authorities’s hope is that it gained’t have to take the ultimate drastic step in its contingency planning: intervention out there to deny gas provides to sure industries.

“Russia is blackmailing us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned as she unveiled Europe’s contingency plans on Wednesday. Whether it’s a partial gas cutoff or a serious one, she added, “Europe needs to be ready.”

Germany has tried to remove any pretexts that Russia would possibly use for shutting off provides. Earlier this month, it urged Canada to skirt its personal sanctions to return a turbine for the Nord Stream pipeline that had been stranded in Montreal, so Moscow couldn’t cite it as an excuse for retaining the gas from flowing.

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