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Italy is the latest European country to disclose increased Russian gas supply cuts. After two days of shortages, Eni said it would only receive half of the 63 million cubic meters per day it had sought from Gazprom on Friday.
Germany has accused Gazprom of aiming to raise energy costs by slashing supply. The Nord Stream pipeline repairs, according to Gazprom, are to blame.
Russia provides 40% of the natural gas used in the European Union. It also provides 27 percent of the EU’s imported oil, for which the bloc pays Russia roughly €400 billion ($430 billion; £341 billion) per year.
In response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has taken steps to wean itself off Russian fossil resources, with most oil imports being banned by the end of 2022. In addition, it has pledged to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds within a year, but it has been difficult to reach an agreement on any additional sanctions, such as an outright embargo.
Member states have been asked to store gas during the hotter summer months in anticipation of increased demand for fuel in the winter, but Russia’s recent supply reductions have raised fears that the continent would struggle to build up enough storage.
If Russia continues to cut supplies, two government sources told Reuters that Italy might announce a “state of alert” on gas next week. Such a step would set a sequence of measures aimed at cutting consumption, including limiting gas to certain industrial customers under current contracts, increasing coal power plant production, and requesting gas imports from other sources.
On Friday, Slovakia, like Italy, reported receiving less than half of the customary levels through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. Meanwhile, France announced that it has not received Russian gas through Germany since June 15 but that it is getting supply from other sources.
Germany has accused Gazprom of seeking to raise energy prices by drastically cutting supply, but the energy company claims the delay is due to the delayed return of equipment serviced in Canada by Germany’s Siemens Energy.
In addition, Austria has reported significant reductions in Russian gas supplies. According to the Kremlin, this was not planned. Russia’s gas deliveries to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands have already been halted after they refused to pay in Russian roubles.
Russia’s payment demand was interpreted as an attempt to support the rouble, which Western sanctions had battered. Demand for roubles is projected to increase as foreign exchange demand rises, pushing up the currency’s value.
Liquefied natural gas imports have boosted gas storage levels across Europe this year, with a considerable quantity coming from the United States.
According to ING Research, stores in the EU are currently 52 percent full, which is somewhat lower than the five-year average but higher than the 43 percent witnessed last year.
“However, a lengthy outage will raise concerns about the EU’s ability to develop sufficient storage ahead of the next heating season,” they warned.
Between the 11th and the 21st of July, Nord Stream 1 will undergo yearly maintenance, which will cease all gas flows.