BERLIN: Russia’s Gazprom on Wednesday halved the amount of natural gas flowing through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe to 20% 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.
Gazprom 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. Nord Stream’s network data and the head of Germany’s network regulator, Klaus Mueller, confirmed the reduction.
Natural gas prices have surged to levels not seen since early March and are nearly six times higher than they were a year ago. Soaring energy prices are fueling record inflation, squeezing people’s spending power and heightening concerns that Europe could plunge into recession if it does not save enough gas to get through winters. That fear led EU governments on Tuesday to agree to reduce natural gas use.