Gazprom tightens squeeze on gas flow to Europe

STORY:

Russia tightened its gas squeeze on Europe as Gazprom said supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would drop to just 20% of capacity .

Gazprom said flows would fall to 33 million cubic metres per day starting Wednesday claiming the disruption was caused by maintenance issue..

But Germany said it saw no technical reason for the latest reduction, which comes as Russia and the West exchange economic blows in response to what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

Nord Stream 1 is the single biggest Russian gas link to Europe. The European Union has repeatedly accused Russia of resorting to energy blackmail, but the Kremlin said Europeans were suffering the consequences of sanctions that they themselves imposed on Russia.

Gazprom had already cut gas exports through the route to 40% capacity last month, citing delays in the return of a turbine Siemens Energy was servicing in Canada, which had initially banned the equipment return, citing sanctions.

European politicians have challenged that explanation, with Germany saying the turbine in question was not meant to be used until September.

President Vladimir Putin warned the West this month that continued sanctions risked triggering catastrophic energy price rises for consumers around the world.

Putin foreshadowed the latest gas cut in comments on the Nord Stream 1 compressor last week, calling into question whether the returned turbine would be operational.

"Now Canada says they will return Nord Stream 1 Siemens gas turbines. At least one of them will be returned. But in what condition will they be returned?"

Politicians in Europe have said Russia could cut off gas flows this winter, which would thrust Germany into recession and lead to soaring prices for consumers already grappling with higher prices for food and energy.

Russia is the world's second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and the world's largest exporter of natural gas.

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