Europeans Urged to Prepare for Russian Gas Cutoff

Key pipeline has resumed operations with reduced flow
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2022 5:26 AM CDT
Europeans Urged to Prepare for Russian Gas Cutoff
Barbed wires secure the entrance of the harbour area where the landfall of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline is located in Lubmin, Germany, Thursday, July 21, 2022.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The European Union is urging its members to start cutting back on natural gas to prepare for winter—and a possible end to supplies from Russia. Gas resumed flowing from Russia to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline Thursday after 10 days offline for regular maintenance, the New York Times reports. There had been fears Russia would not reopen the pipeline at all as retaliation for the EU's support of Ukraine. "Russia is blackmailing us," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. "Russia is using energy as a weapon."

"We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas, and this is a likely scenario," said von der Leyen, who set out a plan for members to voluntarily reduce their overall natural gas consumption by 15% in the months ahead. Before Nord Stream 1 was closed for annual repairs, the flow had already been cut by 60%, the AP reports. Russia blamed sanctions, saying turbines sent to Canada for repairs had not been returned, but European leaders said the move was part of a plan to weaken economies by creating uncertainty. Canada agreed earlier this month to create a sanctions exemption to return the turbines.

Before the war, Russia supplied around 40% of Europe's natural gas. That is now down to 15%, and leaders have stepped up plans to secure alternative supplies from countries including Algeria and Azerbaijan. Prices have spiked so much that Russia's income from natural gas has increased in recent months despite the reduced flow, according to the International Energy Agency. Analysts predict that in the months ahead, Russia will maintain a reduced flow instead of completely cutting off the supply, allowing Vladimir Putin to keep the source of revenue while keeping Europe "in a protracted state of uncertainty and near panic," per the Times. (Read more natural gas stories.)

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