RUSSIA has halted gas supplies to Germany for three days amid fears of power outages across Europe while energy prices soar.
Europe has accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon” after Gazprom’s supplies through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline were disrupted, blaming the need for maintenance work.
The state-controlled energy giant’s delivery halt to Germany began just before 6 a.m. today and will last until 1 a.m. on September 3.
Klaus Müller, the head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, has spoken out against the decision, claiming Moscow “makes a political decision after every so-called maintenance”.
But Gazprom has insisted that work on a compressor station is “necessary” and must be done “every 1,000 hours of operation”.
Russia said the German government was doing everything it could to smash its energy ties with Moscow hours after Gazprom halted gas supplies to Europe.
At a briefing in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was Germany, not the Kremlin, that was trying to completely sever energy ties between the two countries.
The company will also completely halt gas supplies to French utility Engie from Thursday, citing a payments dispute.
France’s Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said: “As we expected, Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and using Engie’s way of applying the treaties as an excuse to further reduce French supplies.”
Germany previously banned hot water and heating in Hanover after Russia halted its gas supplies.
It comes after satellite images showed Vladimir Putin burning 8.4million pounds of unused gas every day – while families face crippling energy bill hikes.
Huge orange flames shoot into the sky at a natural gas facility after Russia shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe.
International gas prices shot up after Russia invaded Ukraine and rose again after it shut down the subsea pipeline.
Households across Europe are facing possible blackouts and energy rationing, while the UK price cap has almost doubled today.
Putin has been accused of pressuring Europe in revenge for his support for Ukraine and sanctions against the regime.
And now images from space show gas “flaring” on a large scale at Gazprom’s Portovaya compressor plant, north of St. Petersburg.
Locals across the border in Finland had been seeing huge orange flames rising from the facility since late June.
The unused gas would normally have been exported to Germany but was incinerated instead, the BBC reports.
Rystad Energy analysts calculate that around 4.34 million cubic meters of gas worth $10 million will be burned by the flare every day.
Sindre Knutsson of the research firm said: “While the exact reasons for the flaring are unknown, the amounts, emissions and location of the flare are a visible reminder of Russia’s dominance of European energy markets.
“There couldn’t be a clearer signal – Russia can cut energy prices tomorrow.
“This is gas that would otherwise have been exported via Nord Stream 1 or alternatives.”
A thermal imaging satellite detected a significant increase in heat emanating from the facility.
Flaring — the deliberate burning off of excess gas — is a common safety measure at processing plants, but the scale has baffled experts.
“I’ve never seen an LNG plant flare up so badly,” said Dr. Jessica McCarty, a satellite data expert from Miami University in Ohio.
“About June we saw this huge peak and it just wouldn’t go away. It has remained very unusually high.”
The state-controlled Gazprom did not comment on the flaring.
It has previously claimed the pipeline was closed for technical reasons, but Germany says it is purely political.
Industry experts say the gas fields can’t just stop production, and because the pipe is closed there’s nowhere to go and they have to burn it in the open.
Others suggested Gazprom may have hoped to turn it into liquid natural gas – which can be stored – but lacks vital equipment.
Esa Vakkilainen of Finland’s LUT University said: “Due to the trade embargo with Russia, they are unable to produce the high-quality valves needed in oil and gas processing.
“So maybe some valves are broken and they can’t replace them.”
Held for ransom
Gas prices were already high before the Ukraine war as demand surged after Covid restrictions were lifted.
But prices shot up after the invasion as Russia is one of the largest producers in the world.
Continental Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas imports, prompting fears of winter blackouts, rationing and plant closures in Germany.
Only a tiny fraction of Britain’s gas comes directly from Russia.
But the UK relies more on gas for electricity than its European neighbors because it has less nuclear and renewable energy.
The UK also has little storage capacity, forcing energy companies to buy gas on the very volatile short-term spot market.
Even the abundant North Sea gas is sold to Britain at international market prices.
Domestic gas and electricity bills will rise to an average of £3,549 from October 1, Ofgem confirmed today.
The staggering 80 percent increase will affect 24 million households.
Energy costs have risen 35 times faster than wages, fueling inflation and the cost of living crisis.
Economists say most of the painful price hikes stem from the war in Ukraine and Putin blackmailing the West.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6114259/russia-cuts-gas-germany-europe-blackout/ Russia suspends gas supplies to Germany for 3 DAYS of ‘maintenance work’ on Nord Stream pipeline amid fears of blackout in Europe