STORY: Europe is racing to find ways to cut gas usage.
That after a new warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking this week, he said there could be further cuts to supplies via a key pipeline.
The comments come just hours before the Nord Stream 1 route is due to reopen.
It’s been shut for servicing, and some had feared Russia might delay a restart.
Now Reuters sources say the pipeline probably will resume operation as expected on Thursday (July 21), but at what capacity looks uncertain.
Russia had already cut flows through Nord Stream to 40% of normal levels before the stoppage.
The disruptions have hampered European efforts to refill gas storage facilities before the winter.
That raises the risks of shortages and rationing.
Now the EU has set a target for cutting gas consumption in the bloc.
It wants member states to reduce usage by 15% between August and March compared with previous years.
The target could be made binding in an emergency, if the EU declares a serious gas shortage.
It's hoped the proposals could be approved within days, though Poland and some other states aren't keen.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen says Moscow Europe has to act:
"Overall, the flow of Russian gas is now less than one third of what it used to be for example at the same time last year. Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it's a partial, major cut-off of Russian gas or a total cut-off of Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready."
Putin denies such charges, saying Russia and energy giant Gazprom are reliable partners.
He says any shortfall in supplies is due to problems with pipeline equipment.