Russia to halt gas flows to Germany, raising fears of complete cutoff

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Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom said Friday that it would halt gas deliveries via its Nord Stream 1 pipeline for a three-day maintenance period beginning this month, a surprise move that will intensify European Union leaders’ efforts to secure alternative supplies out of fear of a complete cutoff.

Gazprom said in a statement Friday that it plans to shut down the pipeline from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 for maintenance on its gas compressor unit.

“Upon completion of the maintenance operations,” and “provided that no malfunctions are identified,” Gazprom said it will resume flow to the throttled rate of 33 million cubic meters per day (or 20% of the pipeline’s total capacity).

The shutdowns come as EU countries race to fill their gas storage tanks and comply with the bloc’s new gas reduction plan passed last month.

Germany, among the most dependent on Russian gas, is hoping to fill its tanks to 95% capacity before November, an effort to offset any immediate losses and ensure it has enough supplies to last through winter.

Last month, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck described the possibility of a total Russian gas cutoff as a “political nightmare scenario.” And even before the shutoff was announced, some EU countries were struggling to fill their storage tanks ahead of the winter season, threatening a very real possibility of rationing or shortages.

“We are monitoring the situation closely with the Federal Network Agency,” a spokesperson for Germany’s economy ministry told Reuters.

Russia has spent the summer steadily tapering off its gas deliveries via Nord Stream 1, the key pipeline linking Russia to Germany.

In July, it cut supplies to just 20% capacity, citing the repairs it needed for a 29-foot turbine piece, which was later revealed to be a spare.

EU leaders and industry officials have accused Moscow of using maintenance as a pretext to halt deliveries to the bloc completely.

Earlier this summer, Habeck accused Russia of “weaponizing” its energy supplies in an effort to weaken the EU.

“Russia is blackmailing us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said recently.