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HomeUkraine-Russia crisisNord Stream 1 resumes pumping gas but Germany braces for tense winter

Nord Stream 1 resumes pumping gas but Germany braces for tense winter

Physical flows of Russian gas through its biggest pipeline to Germany resumed on Thursday after a 10-day outage at a reduced level. Ahead of an uncertain gas situation in winter, Germany set out new measures introducing new rules on gas storage and calling on households and businesses to help save energy.

“Maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has been completed,” announced Germany’s energy regulator adding that gas flows from the pipeline are currently at about 40 per cent of the maximum capacity.

Russia supplied Europe with 40 per cent of its natural gas last year, about a third of this was arriving to Europe on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Germany was the largest importer of Russian gas, but reduced its dependence from 55 per cent to 35 per cent and wants to phase out gas from Russia altogether.

As the EU faces the risk of further gas supply cuts from Russia, EU Member States agreed to fill their underground gas storage facilities up to 80 per cent of their storage capacity by 1 November to support the EU’s security of gas supply for the upcoming and next winters.

However, according to the German energy regulator, if Russian gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline remain at this low level, it will hardly be possible to achieve a sufficient storage level by November without additional measures. The reduction is also affecting the transfer of gas to other European countries such as France, Austria and the Czech Republic.

“Currently, we put around the same volume of gas into storage as we take out,” said the regulator specifying that the total storage level in Germany is currently 65.1 per cent.

As the gas supply situation in Germany remains tense, the government is stepping up precautions for the winter. The Federal Minister for Economics and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck, presented yesterday another energy security package.

Given the uncertainties, the German Ministry for Economy and Climate proposed some important new measures concerning gas storages, power generation and gas demand in buildings through energy efficiency.

“Although we are taking big steps towards reducing dependence on Russian gas, 2023 will still be challenging. Gas remains a scarce commodity and we should use it with appropriate care,” underlined the German Minister adding that gas consumption must be further reduced and storages must be filled.

First of all, Germany will introduce an interim target setting out that gas storage facilities are required to fill 75 per cent of their storage by 1 September. By 1 November they want to see a filling level of 95 per cent, instead of 90 per cent set out before.

Additionally, Germany plans to further reduce gas use for power generation by reviving coal and lignite power plants and they would also like to see a further increase in the contribution of renewables.

But the ministry also announced planned changes in the law that could affect private consumers. Energy savings in companies should be improved, but residential buildings can also contribute to using less energy, as the government would like to give tenants more scope to save energy.

The new measures come after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asked all EU countries to reduce their gas demand by 15 per cent from August to next April and work together to prepare for an event of a total gas cut-off from Russia.

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