Russia has turned the gas tap back on to Europe, but at a lower capacity, with uncertainty lingering over the EU whether the continent can avert an energy crisis this winter.
Critical gas supplies were resumed to Europe through the Nord Stream gas pipeline into Germany. The pipeline was closed for 10 days for annual maintenance. There were growing fears in Europe that Russia would not turn the tap back on after the maintenance period.
A Nord Stream spokesperson simply said: “It is working,” without specifying the amount of gas being delivered.
The German government had fears that Russia would not reopen the pipeline and believed Russia is squeezing supplies in retaliation for western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, has cut flows to Germany via the pipeline by 40 percent in recent weeks. It has blamed the absence of a turbine undergoing repairs in Canada, an explanation which Germany has rejected.
A resumption of 40 percent of supplies would be insufficient to ward off an energy crisis in Europe this winter, experts warn.
The European Commission urged EU countries on Wednesday to reduce demand for natural gas by 15 percent over the next coming months in order to secure winter stocks and to defeat Russia’s “blackmail” against the continent.
The EU commissioners announced an emergency energy plan, asking member states to give Brussels special powers to impose compulsory energy rationing if Russia does cut off the gas lifeline into Europe.
If there were to be a complete shutdown of imports or even a sharp reduction in the flow, there will be catastrophic effects on the European economy.
Last year, Russia made up 40 percent of the total gas imports into the EU. Any further disruption to the gas supply will push consumer prices even higher and will raise the risk of a deep economic recession in Europe.
The European Commission president Ursula von der Leyden said Russia is blackmailing the EU, and using energy as a weapon.
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