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Monday, May 20, 2024

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Europe Suffering As Russia Reduces Gas Supplies

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Russian energy giant Gazprom has begun 10 days of maintenance on its Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Monday. This maintenance schedule requires turning off gas and Europe is wondering whether Russia will resume gas supplies.

The annual maintenance of the gas pipeline was set long in advance. Yet, Europe is in fear that with Russo-Western relations at its lowest ebb in years due to the Ukraine war, Russian energy behemoth Gazprom might just shut off valves and not reopen them again.

“Putin is going to turn off the gas tap… but will he turn it back on one day?” famous German daily Bild asked on Sunday on its website.

After the Nord Stream paused supplies on Monday morning, Italian energy company Eni and Austrian Group OMV both reported reduced supplies from Gazprom.

“There are a number of scenarios in which we could end up in an emergency,” Klaus Mueller, the head of Germany’s federal gas network regulator, told public broadcaster ZDF on Monday.

“We are confronted with an unprecedented situation—anything is possible,” German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck told the public radio over the weekend. “It is possible that the gas will flow once more, even at a higher volume level than before.” But, he warned, “it is possible that nothing comes through, and we still have to prepare for the worst” as Europe rushes to levitate away from Russia for energy.

Using a missing turbine as an excuse, Russia has already cut up to 60 per cent of the gas supply to Berlin, which says it is a ‘political’ decision. This had a domino effect on many European countries. Poland and Bulgaria have seen their supplies stopped altogether.

One issue at least has been resolved as Canada agreed to return to Germany the turbine, which was under maintenance. This was done despite strong objections by Ukraine.

Germany has speculated that turning of Nordstream would not be easy as “it is not like a water tap” that can just be shut off. The gas extracted from Siberia has to be stored somewhere indefinitely hence Germany is hoping Russia will not stop gas supplies.

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