Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has warned Europe to prepare immediately for Russia to turn off all gas exports to the region this coming winter. He called on the Europeans to reduce demand and keep nuclear power plants open.
Russian gas supplies to Europe received through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been falling.
Last week, Russia’s state-controlled energy company Gazprom announced the second cut to gas transported via the pipeline, reducing supplies to just 40% of capacity.
“I believe the cuts are geared towards avoiding Europe filling storage, and increasing Russia’s leverage in the winter months,” Birol said, adding "“Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off." “The nearer we are coming to winter, the more we understand Russia’s intentions.
EU countries are racing to refill storage sites, with Germany hoping to reach 90% of capacity by November. Its storage facilities are presently only half full. The Italian energy firm Eni has reported a halving of Gazprom’s gas supplies to Italy, which gets about 40% of its imported gas from Russia. Meanwhile, the French network operator GRTgaz said France had not received any Russian gas via Germany since the middle of May.
For other European countries the situation is worse. Moscow has reduced or even cut off gas deliveries to several EU countries (including Bulgaria and Poland) in recent weeks, in response to their decision to impose sanctions on the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine.