After a 10-day disruption, Russia started pumping gas through its main pipeline to Europe on Thursday, alleviating some of Europe’s immediate supply concerns but not enough to ease the prospect of rationing to deal with anticipated winter shortages.
Supplies through Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, were interrupted for repair on July 11, although flows had already been reduced to 40% of the pipeline’s capacity due to a disagreement precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Thursday’s flows were back at 40 percent capacity, according to Nord Stream data, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that shipments may be reduced further or even halted.
The restart of Nord Stream supplies at levels significantly below the pipeline’s capacity means that Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian fuel, and other European nations are still battling to obtain enough gas for winter.
“In view of the missing 60 percent and the political instability, there is no reason yet to give the all-clear,” German network regulator President Klaus Mueller tweeted.
Other pipeline lines, such as Ukraine, have also seen a drop in gas shipments since Russia invaded its neighbor in February in what Moscow deems a “special military operation”
Germany and many other countries have already launched the initial steps of emergency measures, which might lead to rationing in certain situations. Greece said on Thursday that, if required, rotational power outages will be implemented.
By November 1, the EU hopes to have 80 percent of its gas storage facilities around the union filled. Inventories are currently around two-thirds full, with replenishing slowing.
If Nord Stream supplies stay low, Germany will struggle to meet its own objective of 90 percent capacity by November, according to the German network authority.
“Even at full flows, the European natural gas situation remains critical,” said Peter McNally, an analyst at Third Bridge, adding that Europe may only reach 70% storage capacity with Nord Stream at present levels.
Gazprom (GAZP.MM), which controls Russian gas pipeline exports, did not reply to a request for comment.