Putin says Nord Stream gas supplies to Germany could be further reduced
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that gas supplies flowing to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline could be further reduced at the end of July if the ongoing dispute about repairs is not resolved. The message will do little to assuage fears in Germany about a total cut-off.
Putin warns gas supplies could be cut to fifth of original amount
During a recent visit to Iran, Putin said that if Russia did not receive back a turbine that was sent to Canada for repairs and since been held up under the country’s sanctions, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would only be able to transmit a maximum of around 33 million cubic metres of gas per day from the end of July. This would reduce the daily delivery capacity to around a fifth of the original amount, after supplies were twice reduced in early June.
According to Russian state news agency TASS, Putin also suggested that the recently-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline could be put into operation to make up some of the shortfall - although he added that Russia still needed half of the original volume for “domestic needs”. “We still have a finished route - that’s Nord Stream 2. We can put it into operation,” he said. Germany held back its approval for the new pipeline in February, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Nord Stream 1 is currently shut down for annual maintenance work. Gas is due to resume flowing on Thursday, but fears are running high in Germany and across Europe that Russia will now take the opportunity to turn off the tap completely - even after the turbine is returned and installed - and Putin’s recent statements will do little to soothe these concerns. Experts have also suggested that the Kremlin might use the situation to force the approval of Nord Stream 2.
Energy crisis forces Germany to consider nuclear power and autobahn speed limits
The volatility on the energy market has forced the German government to consider some ideas that have long been considered off the table: namely, extending the life of the country’s remaining nuclear power plants, and - even more controversially - imposing a speed limit on the autobahn to reduce fuel consumption. Despite long being considered politically untenable, both policies actually have broad public support.
This week, speculation was mounting that the government was about to U-turn on its decision to close down its last three remaining nuclear power plants by the end of 2022. A government spokesperson said that they were evaluating the security of the country’s energy supplies to make a decision on keeping the plants running for another six months. The Green party is still opposed to such a move, but it has support from the FDP and CDU parties.
The CDU has also indicated that it may be prepared to consider supporting a temporary 130 km / h speed limit on the autobahn. Advocates of this say it would help to reduce emissions and make driving in Germany safer, while a slim majority of Germans support the idea.