Russia cut off the flow of gas to Europe through the Nord Stream-1 pipeline on Wednesday, citing repairs. The gas supply will be stopped from 5 am local time on Wednesday (August 31) until the next three days (September 3), according to the news agency Reuters, citing Gazprom. Such a decision by Russia has caused concern in major European countries. If the supply of gas decreases, the countries will undoubtedly suffer in the coming winter. In such a situation, the question may come, but has Putin started ‘weapons’ on Europe?
On February 24, the United States and its allies imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia due to military operations in Ukraine. In contrast, Russia also reduces gas supplies to Europe by a relatively large amount.
Two weeks ago, Gazprom signaled a supply cut, but the German government did not take it seriously as it was not formally announced. But gas flows have fallen 40 percent from expected levels in recent months, Reuters reported.
The flow of gas was stopped last July due to scheduled maintenance and resumed 10 days later, but it was only 20 percent of the total supply capacity. Moscow has blamed Germany’s failure to return vital equipment due to sanctions imposed on Russia as the reason for the drop in supplies. But the German government has rejected this demand of Moscow and called it a ‘drama’. Nord Stream is ‘fully functional’ and had no technical problems, they claim.
In such a situation, Europe’s leaders fear that if Russia stops supplying gas, the price of gas may increase several times. However, gas prices in Europe have increased by 400 percent in the past few months. If gas prices continue to rise, the cost of living in Europe will multiply, especially this coming winter. This will cost governments billions of dollars.
But Gazprom has denied accusations of punishing the Western world by cutting gas supplies to Europe.
France’s energy minister accused Russia of using gas as a ‘weapon’ on Tuesday. However, Gazprom had earlier announced the cessation of gas supply to the French energy company NG.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said in a response to France’s accusations that Russia’s infrastructure has been damaged due to Western sanctions, and gas supplies are being disrupted. However, the spokesperson did not specify what kind of disruption in gas supply was caused due to the Western sanctions.
Meanwhile, since invading Ukraine, Russia has completely cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland, and has also reduced the flow of gas through other pipelines.
Russia accused the German government on Wednesday morning of doing everything it could to destroy energy ties with Moscow. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Germany was responsible for “trying to completely destroy” energy ties between the two countries.
Germany has also been trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas for the past few months. Until last February, 55 percent of Russia’s gas was dependent on Germany. Currently, the country has managed to reduce dependency by about 26 percent, according to the Guardian report. Also they are constantly trying to find alternative sources of gas.
Analysts say Germany will have to wait until at least mid-2024 to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Klaus Müller, head of Germany’s grid regulator Bundesnetzagent, said Europe’s largest economy was ahead of its own target to fill gas storage facilities across the country, which were only 83 percent full on Tuesday. Its target was 85 percent by October 1. But industries and households are expected to reach the 95 percent target by spending about 15 percent less.
Basically the ‘heating season’ starts from mid-September in Germany. This period is seen as a crisis period in energy supply planning for Germany. Because from then on the stored gas will be needed and the level will decrease. As a result, severe winters and supply cuts from Russia could complicate the situation.
Supplies are also coming from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. The three-day stoppage is expected to amount to just one terawatt hour of gas. But during the same period, supply from sources outside Russia amounted to about 8 terawatts per hour.
However, Germany believes that Putin will not completely cut off gas supplies because it would cause economic damage to Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would fulfill its obligations. He also rejected Berlin’s claim that the supply cut was politically motivated.
Analysts say China is buying a share of Europe’s gas exports. This is believed to be the reason why Russia has decided to flare large amounts of gas in recent days.
Meanwhile in Germany sales of water and energy saving shower heads, electric blankets and camping gas cookers have increased in recent weeks. Because Germans want to reduce their gas consumption and control rising utility bills