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EU Doesn't Expect Russia To Restart Nord Stream Flows As Planned

The European Union is bracing for the possibility that Russia will not resume natural gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream as planned—right after the regular maintenance on the pipeline ends on July 21, a European Commissioner told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

“We’re working on the assumption that it doesn’t return to operation,” Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for Budget and Administration, said on the sidelines of a conference in Singapore.

Nord Stream, the key pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Germany, is currently undergoing regular maintenance between July 11 and 21.

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Yet, Germany and other EU member states are not ruling out the possibility that Russia may not resume flows via Nord Stream once the maintenance period ends, or that it could further reduce supply.

Europe is increasingly concerned that it may have to resort to rationing gas supplies this winter, following the drastic reduction of Russian gas deliveries since the middle of June.  

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The European Commission, the EU’s executive, is working on all contingency scenarios, including no resumption of Russian flows via Nord Stream when maintenance is over.

“We are working on the worst possible scenario. And that scenario, and assumption therefore, is that Gazprom would no longer deliver any gas to Europe... We are basing our winter preparedness plans on the worst possible scenario,” a Commission spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Commission is expected to unveil on Wednesday measures to conserve gas, which could include financial incentives for industrial users and utilities to cut gas consumption or switch to other fuels for production and power generation, respectively.

The Commission could even propose emergency powers that would include binding cuts in natural gas consumption in EU member states in case of supply emergencies such as a complete stop of Russian gas, Politico reported this week, quoting three EU diplomats.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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