Despite the fact that Nord Stream last week resumed operations after a 10-day maintenance period, analysts and European countries are bracing for further disruptions amid continued uncertainty about how much gas Russia will send via the pipeline to Germany.
Russia restarted gas supply via Nord Stream on Thursday, with flows resuming at around 40% of Nord Stream’s capacity, the level from before the maintenance after Russia slashed flows in June.
“Further disruptions are expected as Russia seeks to increase political and economic pressure on Europe as winter approaches,” Penny Leake, Research Analyst for Europe Gas and LNG at Wood Mackenzie, said, commenting on the restart of the Nord Stream pipeline.
“It remains unclear what Russia will do. There is a risk that Nord Stream flows will reduce below the 40% capacity seen before the maintenance,” Leake added.
As of Monday, flows on the pipeline remained stable at around 40%, according to pipeline operators’ data cited by Reuters. But this could change as soon as Tuesday because Russia says it is due to send another turbine from a compressor station for maintenance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Gazprom could cut natural gas flows to Europe via Nord Stream even more due to slow progress with the maintenance of the gas turbines at compressor stations. Another gas turbine is scheduled to be sent for maintenance on July 26, Putin said last Wednesday.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the turbine Siemens returned would be installed once all formalities are completed, but noted, "We know that we have issues with other turbines, too, and Siemens is well aware of this.”
If Nord Stream flows remain at around 40% capacity, the EU could be able to fill its gas storage to over 80% by November, WoodMac analysts say.
But if Nord Stream flows reduce to zero by August this year, Europe will only be able to refill its storage to 70-75% by the start of winter, risking some demand curtailments and deficient levels of gas in storage when winter ends. In case of a very cold winter in Europe and Asia, Europe could run out of gas in storage by February 2023, risking curtailment of 7% of total gas demand or 30-35% of all industrial demand in winter, Wood Mackenzie said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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