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Russia cuts natural gas exports to European countries

PRAGUE (Transatlantic Today) — Russia cut natural gas exports to Europe again on Friday, reducing supplies by half to Slovakia and Italy and totally to France, as nations seek to minimize their reliance on Russian supplies in the wake of the Ukraine conflict. 

It’s the third day of substantial fuel price cuts in Europe, which have already impacted Austria and Germany. According to ABC NEWS, it has increased already-high energy costs, which are fuelling record inflation in the European Union. 

Russia has pinned the cutbacks to the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline fueling France and Germany on a technical issue, claiming that equipment being rebuilt in Canada was stranded there due to Western sanctions. Following Russia’s prior shutdown of natural gas to Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, and Finland, leaders in Italy and Germany termed the cutbacks a political act, escalating energy concerns in Europe. 

SPP head Richard Prokypcak addressed a conference in Bratislava that Russia notified Slovakia’s state-controlled gas provider SPP that it would cut supplies to the nation by half. The cause for the cut has yet to be revealed. 

On the same day, Russian state-owned power company Gazprom informed Italian gas provider Eni that it would only supply half of the gas sought for Friday, cutting Russian gas supply to one of Europe’s top consumers for a 3rd day. 

On Wednesday, Gazprom cut Italy’s requested delivery by 15%. According to the ANSA news agency, the Russian business cut it by 35% on Thursday. Italy imports 40% of its gas from Russia, but has been looking for alternatives in nations such as Algeria. 

Russia is no longer supplying natural gas to France. Russian gas deliveries via Germany came to a standstill on Wednesday, according to the French gas system operator GRTGaz, after falling by 60% in the first 5 months of the year.

Despite the stop in Russian supplies, the operator stated Friday that no gas supply interruptions are anticipated this summer, thanks in part to increased exports via Spain. France typically imports around 17 percent of its natural gas from Russia, but gas accounts for only about 16 percent of France’s total energy mix. 

According to German Economy Ministry spokesperson Stephan Gabriel Haufe, the fall in supplies to France was caused by the already-known drop in gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 

According to Russia, Canadian sanctions blocked Siemens Energy, a German partner, from delivering machinery that had been ordered to be overhauled. According to the German government, upkeep should not have been a concern until the fall, and Russia’s move was intended to create uncertainty and drive up prices. 

In the preceding days, the cuts had been as high as 10% on Wednesday and 34% on Thursday. Slovakia recently signed a contract with Norway to obtain gas from the North Sea via Germany, as well as liquefied gas from other nations, in order to diversify its sources. 

The new agreements, according to Economy Minister Richard Sulik, will lower his nation’s reliance on Russian gas by 65 percent. Slovakia used to get 85 percent of its gas from Russia before the agreements. 

Slovakia’s gas storages hold nearly a third of the nation’s annual usage, and the country planned to have sufficient gas for the winter season by July 10. 

OMV, an Austrian gas and oil provider, stated on Thursday that Gazprom had warned it of a supply reduction, but did not say how much. 

The European Union is attempting to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year, and has begun to fill the vacuum with imported liquefied gas from the United States. However, an explosion at a significant U.S. export plant in Freeport, Texas, knocked out one-fifth of the nation’s gas export capacity, raising fears about Europe’s gas supply security. 

Short-term gas prices remained high on Friday, with month-ahead gas contracts at 126 euros per megawatt. That’s a 50 percent increase over Monday. 

With the conclusion of the winter heating season, gas costs had plummeted, providing some respite to European utilities racing to restock underground storage in order to survive through the coming winter.

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