Energy regulator also hints at priorities for natural gas rationing
A complete suspension of natural gas supplies from Russia is a possibility, the head of Germany's Federal Network Agency warned on Saturday.
In an interview with the Funke newspaper group, Klaus Muller reiterated his call for people to reduce their consumption, and raised fears that the upcoming maintenance shut-down of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a key gas artery, "will turn into a longer-running political maintenance."
Earlier this week Nord Stream AG, the operator of the undersea pipeline, said it would shut down both strings of the route for repair works from July 11 to July 21. Gazprom, the firm's majority shareholder, says the maintenance was scheduled and agreed with all partners.
Muller said that "if, in the course of maintenance, the flow of gas from Russia is reduced for a longer period of time for political reasons, we need to talk more seriously about saving."
While keeping energy flowing to households is a top priority, the official did not rule out the possibility of power cuts.
"Private households are given special protection - as are hospitals and nursing homes, for example. If there is rationing, we must first reduce consumption in the industrial sector," Muller was quoted as saying.
"We learned from the coronavirus crisis that we shouldn't make any promises if we're not absolutely sure that we can keep them. However, we do not see any scenario in which no more gas comes to Germany," he added.
Aside from the planned the planned maintenance, which will halt gas flow through Nord Stream for 10 days, Gazprom has been forced to reduce supplies by as much as 60% due to technical issues arising from Western sanctions introduced against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.
Gazprom has said German equipment supplier Siemens Energy failed to return gas-pumping units to a compressor station on time, as the repaired turbines for the gas route are currently stuck at a maintenance facility in Canada due to Ottawa's sanctions on Russia.
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