After the maintenance of Nord Stream 1, Russia initially supplied exactly the same amount of gas as before the interruption. Gazprom has now announced that it will halve deliveries again. Is there a threat of gas triage in winter? The most important answers.

The Russian energy giant Gazprom announced on Monday evening that it would halve the flow rate of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from next Wednesday (July 27). The approximately 1,220-kilometer-long Baltic Sea pipeline, the most important transit route for Russian gas to Germany and Europe, would then only be used to a good 20 percent.

Officially, Gazprom says that another gas turbine needs maintenance. Just earlier this month, Gazprom throttled flow to repair another turbine in Canada, before Nord Stream 1 was shut down completely for a 10-day maintenance. Said turbine is currently in Germany and awaiting onward transport to Russia. For this, Siemens Energy, the designer of the component, and Gazprom have to exchange further documents, it was said on Monday.

The tug of war over the turbines of the Portovaya compressor station could now begin again. As recently as Sunday evening, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that a number of the station’s components still had to be repaired – underscoring Gazprom’s announcement today. According to Gazprom, only two of the station’s six turbines are currently in operation. The sanctions against Russia would massively restrict the maintenance options for the components, according to the energy company.

The problem: from the outside it cannot be said with certainty whether this is really the reason. Annual maintenance of the pipeline in the summer is not unusual in itself. However, there is a fear that Russia will now push ahead with this and other work in order to further turn off the gas supply to Germany.

After the maintenance, Russia initially sent about as much gas as before the work through Nord Stream 1. This is shown by data from the Federal Network Agency to the transfer station in Lubmin near Greifswald. With around 700 gigawatt hours per day, Nord Stream 1 was only used to a good 40 percent. The full capacity is almost 1800 gigawatt hours of natural gas per day. After the throttling, only about 350 gigawatt hours of natural gas should arrive in Greifswald every day.

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Because gas consumption is significantly lower in summer than in winter, there is no risk of an acute bottleneck. According to the Federal Network Agency, Germany has even filled up its storage facilities a little more in recent weeks due to low demand, although Nord Stream 1 was completely out of action at times.

The repeated throttling of deliveries worsens the prospects for the winter again. The stores are currently 65.9 percent full, a relatively normal level for this time of year. However, the Federal Network Agency notes: “Should Russian gas deliveries via Nord Stream 1 remain at this low level, a storage level of 95 percent by November can hardly be achieved without additional measures” – and here the Federal Network Agency was still referring to a delivery capacity utilization of 40 percent.

However, since Gazprom now wants to reduce deliveries to 20 percent, this goal seems completely unattainable unless the faucet is turned on again. Energy market analysts at Deutsche Bank recently warned in a study that the supply in winter would be “on a knife edge” if deliveries were to be cut in half again.

In this case, according to the analysts, it would depend on the further export of the gas. Germany serves as an important transit country for the supply of Central Europe. If only 35 percent of the gas were to be re-exported, the supply would be guaranteed even with smaller deliveries. But: “The picture changes drastically with a re-export quota of 40 percent. Then the reservoirs would be completely empty in April. Rationing at the end of winter could become necessary.”

That’s the big question now. If deliveries remain at this low level, it will be almost impossible to fill the storage facilities in time. The statements of the Federal Network Agency and the scenarios of the Deutsche Bank study bear witness to this.

It is unclear how long Moscow intends to gamble here in order to continue to strain Europe’s energy market and thus put pressure on Germany and other supporters of Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia was “not interested” in completely restricting its deliveries to Europe. But: That could change, “should Europe continue to ruthlessly impose sanctions and restrictions”.

What seems certain is that the cut in supply makes it more likely that the third and last stage of the “gas emergency plan” will be called – the emergency stage. Then the federal government could enact regulations on the use of the gas that is still available, while the Federal Network Agency would be responsible for distribution together with the suppliers.

However, certain groups of consumers who should be supplied with gas until the very end are given special legal protection. “These protected consumers include households, social facilities such as hospitals and gas-fired power plants, which also serve to supply heat to households,” says the Federal Network Agency.