Russia resumed pumping gas through its biggest pipeline to Germany on Thursday after a 10-day outage, the operator said, easing Europe’s supply concerns amid an economic tit-for-tat with the Kremlin over its invasion in Ukraine.
Europe has been on edge about the restart after the annual maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which accounts for more than a third of Russian gas exports to the European Union.
“We are in process of resuming gas transportation. It can take a few hours to reach the nominated transport volumes,” a spokesperson for the operator said.
Governments have been bracing for possible further supply cuts and chasing alternative supplies, although the global gas market was stretched even before the Ukraine crisis, with demand for the fuel recovering from the pandemic-induced downturn.
Russia has been curbing gas supplies to Europe for months amid a dispute with the West over sanctions imposed on Moscow for the February invasion. The reductions have exacerbated an energy crisis, sending gas prices rocketing and putting the region at risk of rationing and shortages as it seeks to refill energy stores ahead of the winter. Nord Stream 1 transports 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year of gas under the Baltic Sea and has been offline since July 11. On the Nord Stream AG website, physical flows were at 21 388 236 kwh/h for 0600-0700 CET (0400-0500 GMT), from zero previously.
A spokesperson for Austria’s OMV said Gazprom signalled it would deliver around 50% of agreed gas volumes on Thursday, levels seen before the shutdown. On June 14, Russia reduced gas flows to 40% of capacity through the pipeline, citing the delay of a turbine being serviced in Canada.
As the West accuses Moscow of using its energy resources as a weapon, some European governments, such as Germany, have said the turbine delay was not a good enough reason for the curtailment.
Canada has said it had issued a permit for the turbine’s return, but it is not known when it will reach Nord Stream. Russia insists it is a reliable supplier and dismisses Western charges it is using energy to blackmail Europe. It also accuses the West in its support for Ukraine of waging economic warfare against Moscow. The European Union told member states on Wednesday to cut gas usage by 15% until March amid further warnings from President Vladimir Putin about future Russian supplies.