- Nord Stream 1 pipeline capacity down to 40%
- Europe's gas price jumps up to 30% after disruption news
- Gazprom blames cuts on equipment delays from Canada
- Germany says gas cuts aimed at driving prices higher still
Russian gas supply to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline fell further on Thursday and Moscow said more delays in repairs could lead to suspending all flows, putting a brake Europe's race to refill its gas inventories.
Faltering flows come as the leaders of Germany, Italy and France visit Ukraine, which is pressing for swifter weapons deliveries to battle invading Russian forces and wants support for Kyiv's bid to join the European Union.
Russia's state-controlled Gazprom said on Thursday it was reducing supply for a second time in as many days via Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic to Germany. The latest move cuts supply to just 40% of the pipeline's capacity.
It has said cuts were necessary due to the delayed return of equipment sent to Canada for maintenance, an explanation the German regulator said was technically "unfounded". Germany's government said Russia wanted to drive gas prices higher.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday reductions in supply were not premeditated and repeated that disruptions were caused by maintenance issues.
Dutch wholesale gas prices , the European benchmark, jumped up to 30% on Thursday morning.
Russia's ambassador to the European Union told state news agency RIA Novosti flows via the pipeline could be suspended because of problems in repairing turbines in Canada.
Nord Stream 1 has capacity to pump about 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year to the European Union, which last year imported about 140 bcm of gas from Russia via pipelines.
Germany, like other European countries, is racing to refill its gas storage facilities so they are 80% full by October and 90% by November before winter arrives. Stores are 56% full now.
Cutting flows through Nord Stream 1 would make that job harder, the head of the Germany energy regulator said.
"We could perhaps get through the summer as the heating season is over. But it is imperative that we fill the storage facilities to get through the winter," Klaus Mueller told Thursday's edition of Rheinische Post daily.
Europe races to refill storage
Uniper, Germany's biggest importer of Russian gas, said supplies were down a quarter on agreed volumes but it could fill missing volumes from other sources. Power producer RWE said it had seen restrictions in the past two days.
The European Union aims to ensure gas storage facilities across the 27-nation bloc are 80% full by November. But other European nations are also facing falling Russian supplies.
Slovakia's state-owned gas importer SPP said it expected Thursday's Russian gas deliveries to be reduced by about 30%, while Czech power utility CEZ said it had seen a similar fall but was filling the gap from other sources.
Austria's OMV said Gazprom informed it of reduced deliveries and France's Engie said flows had down but clients were not affected. Flows to Italy also fell.
Adding to the challenge, Nord Stream 1 will shut completely during the pipeline's annual maintenance on 11-21 July .
Norway, Europe's second biggest exporter behind Russia, has been pushing up production to help the European Union towards it target of ending reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
Britain's Centrica signed a deal with Norway's Equinor for extra gas supplies to the United Kingdom for the next three winters. Britain does not rely on Russian gas and can also export to Europe via pipelines.
European states have also boosted liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports but Europe has limited LNG import capacity and the already tight LNG market has faced additional challenges with disruptions to US LNG production.
A fire last week at a U.S. LNG export plant in Texas, operated by Freeport LNG, means the plant will be offline until September and will operate only partially from then until the end of 2022.
The facility, which accounts for about 20% of U.S. LNG exports, has been a major supplier to European buyers.
"There is risk of further delay, in our view," analysts at investment bank Jefferies said, adding that regulators need to approve the restart while two investigations were ongoing into the cause of the LNG leak at the plant.