Nord Stream 1 operator, Gazprom, has begun to ship reduced amounts of gas through Nord Stream 1 now that maintenance work has ended after a 10 day hiatus. There was a collective sigh of relief from EU countries, as there had been concerns across the region that there could be a complete shutdown of gas supplies via the pipeline.
But Robert Habeck, German economy minister, said it was too early to be confident about Europe’s energy security. “Russia as an energy supplier has become unreliable,” he said on Thursday. “It is using its great power . . . to blackmail Europe and Germany.”
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, voiced similar concerns, saying Russia was blackmailing Europe and using energy as a weapon. Russia has repeatedly denied it is weaponizing fossil fuel supplies and the Kremlin was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC Thursday.
James Waddell, an analyst at Energy Aspects, said by resuming partial flows Putin would retain a degree of influence over Europe this winter and ahead of any potential settlement of the conflict in Ukraine.
“Russia’s key objective is clearly to stymie Europe’s ability to comfortably fill gas storage ahead of the winter,” he said. “By restoring partial flows they retain some political leverage over Europe’s capitals while also maximizing revenues that help fund the war in Ukraine.”