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Russian Gas Flow Too Low To Fill Europe’s Much-Needed Winter Storage

lng terminal german

Russia’s cut in supplies through its main gas pipeline to Germany will leave countries unable to meet goals to refill storage and Europe’s biggest economy is faced with rationing industry to keep its citizens warm during the winter months. [bold, links added]

Politicians in Europe have repeatedly said Russia could cut off gas flows this winter, which would thrust Germany into a recession and lead to soaring prices for consumers already grappling with inflation at multi-year highs.

So far, the most high-profile casualty of Russia’s reduced gas flows is Germany’s biggest gas importer Uniper. The government was forced to bail it out last week.

On Monday, the squeeze on Germany tightened when Gazprom said it needed to halt the operation of a turbine, meaning flows through Nord Stream 1 from Russia to Germany will drop to just 20% of capacity from Wednesday.

Gazprom had previously cited the delayed return of another turbine being serviced in Canada as the reason to reduce flows to 40% in June before halting them all together for 10 days of scheduled maintenance this month.

Following the planned repair period, Gazprom resumed pumping on schedule on July 21, but at the reduced level of 40%.

Even before the latest reduction was announced on Monday, Germany’s energy network regulator had said the country would struggle to meet its storage target.

The European Union plans to refill storage to 80% of capacity by Nov. 1 to provide a buffer for the peak demand winter months.

So far, European gas storage levels are at 66% full, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows.

Germany has an even higher goal of reaching 95% full by November.

At 20% of capacity, Europe will be able to refill storage to only 75%-80% ahead of winter, Wood Mackenzie consultancy said on Monday.

“As a result, Europe is likely to get through the heating season with only 20% gas in store at the end of March – a very low level,” Kateryna Filippenko, Principal Analyst, Global Gas Supply at Wood Mackenzie said.

An extra cold winter would strain the situation further, especially if the weather is severe in Asia, as well as Europe, which would limit the global availability of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to supplement pipeline supplies.

Read more at Reuters

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