The European Union instructed member states on Wednesday to limit gas use by 15% until March as part of an emergency plan, after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russian supplies to Europe through the largest pipeline might be lowered further.

After a 10-day pause for yearly maintenance, deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which accounts for more than a third of Russian gas supplies to the EU, are set to restart on Thursday.

However, supplies through that channel had already been curtailed before to the maintenance outage due to a disagreement over sanctioned components, and they may now be reduced further, while flows via other routes, such as Ukraine, have also been reduced since Russia invaded its neighbor in February.

The delays have delayed Europe’s attempts to replenish gas supplies before winter, increasing the prospect of rationing and further crimping weak economic development if Moscow curbs shipments further in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

The European Commission suggested a voluntary objective for all EU member states to reduce their gas consumption by 15% from August to March, compared to their average consumption in the same period from 2016 to 2021.

“Russia is attempting to blackmail us. Russia use energy as a weapon. As a result, whether it is a partial, large cut-off of Russian gas or a whole cut-off of Russian gas, Europe must be prepared “According to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

If the EU declares a significant danger of catastrophic gas shortages, the idea would allow Brussels to make the aim obligatory. 

The plan, which requires the approval of EU member states, will be considered on Friday in order for ministers to adopt it in an emergency meeting on July 26.

“We believe that a full disruption is likely and it is especially likely if we don’t act and leave ourselves vulnerable to it,” said one EU official. “If we wait, it will be more expensive and it will mean us dancing to Russia’s tune.”

Data reveal that EU governments are attempting to guarantee that storage facilities are 80 percent filled by November 1, up from roughly 65 percent presently. 

According to European lawmakers, Russia is reducing delivery due to technical concerns. The Kremlin maintains that Russia is a dependable energy source and blames lower supplies on sanctions.

According to two Russian sources acquainted with Russia’s export preparations, Nord Stream 1 flows are set to resume on time on Thursday after being interrupted on July 11 for yearly maintenance.

However, they said that it will fall short of its daily capacity of 160 million cubic metres (mcm).

In June, the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom (GAZP.MM) reduced gas exports through the pipeline to 40% capacity, blaming the delay on the return of a turbine that Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) was fixing in Canada.

Source: Reuters

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