News Russia further cuts gas flows to Europe to 20 per cent of capacity
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Russia further cuts gas flows to Europe to 20 per cent of capacity

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Russia’s Gazprom has halved the amount of natural gas flowing through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe to 20 per cent of capacity.

It’s the latest Nord Stream 1 reduction that Russia has blamed on technical problems, but Germany calls a political move to sow uncertainty and push up prices amid the war in Ukraine.

The Russian state-controlled energy giant announced on Monday that it would slash flows on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that runs to Germany because of equipment repairs.

It’s raised new fears that Russia could completely cut off gas that is used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes to try to gain political leverage over Europe as it tries to bolster its storage levels for winter.

Data on the Nord Stream website and the head of Germany’s network regulator, Klaus Mueller, confirmed the reduction on Wednesday.

“Gas is now a part of Russian foreign policy and possibly Russian war strategy,” Mr Mueller told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Natural gas prices have surged on Europe’s TTF benchmark to levels not seen since early March and are nearly six times higher than they were a year ago.

Soaring energy prices are fuelling record inflation and heightening concerns that Europe could plunge into recession if it does not save enough gas to get through the cold months.

That fear led EU governments on Tuesday to agree to reduce natural gas use to protect against further Russian supply cuts.

The draft law aims to lower demand for gas by 15 per cent from August through March with voluntary steps. If there are not enough savings, mandatory cuts would be triggered in the 27-nation bloc.

Russia, which has reduced or cut off natural gas to 12 EU countries since the war, insists the new drop-off through Nord Stream 1 is because maintenance is needed on a turbine for a compressor station and another turbine sent for repairs in Canada has been delayed.

It has said the paperwork for the return of the second turbine has raised questions about Western sanctions.

European leaders and analysts say the reductions are a pretext to try to divide EU countries and elevate prices.

Russia recently has accounted for about a third of Germany’s gas supplies. The government said last week that Germany could not rely on Russian deliveries and it would take further measures to conserve supplies.