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Despite faster-than-usual filling rates for gas storage across Europe, the continent is currently bracing for the possibility of blackouts as Gazprom officially halts the flow of gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Citing technical challenges in the form of too few compressor turbines, the Russian state energy giant said it would stop gas flows via Nord Stream 1 for three days, beginning August 31. In Europe, there are growing fears that Gazprom won’t restart the flow in three days as promised.
The same fear gripped European capitals last month when Gazprom halted gas supply via Nord Stream 1 for regularly scheduled maintenance. The fears did not materialize but Gazprom did reduce flows after the maintenance was over, citing the same technical challenges.
If this time the fears turn out to be well founded, full inventories may not be enough to meet demand. This, in turn, would mean electricity, heating, and gas rationing, Bloomberg reported today, noting the situation was particularly critical in Germany.
The European Union’s largest economy would need to reduce its gas consumption by at least a fifth in order to have a chance of getting through winter. Even if its gas storage caverns reach a fill level of 95 percent, it would not be enough for three months of consumption, according to the head of Germany’s energy regulator Klaus Mueller.
Tensions are running high after earlier this week Gazprom slashed gas deliveries to French Engie citing payment problems, causing yet another peak in gas prices, which are already sky-high and causing factory closures across Europe.
Expectations, as described by the Bloomberg report, are that if Europe gets lucky with a mild winter, blackouts would be avoided. If the weather does not cooperate, however, the energy supply situation in the region could become challenging.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.