France accuses Russia over gas supply as Nord Stream shutdown looms

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  • Gazprom cuts supply to French Engie on Tuesday
  • Nord Stream 1 pipeline shuts down for maintenance for three days
  • European energy ministers hold emergency meeting on 9 September
  • Europe’s first-month gas contract hit record high last week

PARIS, Aug. 30 (Reuters) – France on Tuesday accused Moscow of using energy supplies as “a weapon of war” after Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut supplies to a major French customer and said it would shut down its main gas pipeline to Germany. closing for three days this week.

European governments are trying to coordinate a response to rising energy costs for businesses and households and to fill storage facilities before peak winter demand.

Western countries fear Moscow is deliberately inflating gas prices to try to weaken their resistance to the invasion of Ukraine, a tactic Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called “economic terrorism” on Monday. Moscow denies the charge.

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Nord Stream 1, the main channel for Russian gas to Europe, has become a flashpoint in the dispute. Europe faces further supply shortages this week as Gazprom shuts down the pipeline for maintenance from Wednesday into the early hours of Saturday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that technological problems caused by Western sanctions against Russia are the only thing standing in the way of gas supply via Nord Stream 1.

But France’s Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said: “It is very clear that Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we must prepare for the worst-case scenario of a complete supply disruption.”

She spoke to France Inter Radio after French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA) said it would receive less gas from Gazprom from Tuesday due to an unspecified contractual dispute. read more

Russia is pumping gas through Nord Stream 1 at just 20% of capacity and fears may be extended this week’s outage.

Asked if there are guarantees that Gazprom will restart gas flows through Nord Stream 1, the Kremlin’s Peskov said: “There are guarantees that, apart from technology problems caused by sanctions, nothing will hinder deliveries.” read more

‘INSAN PRICES’

EU energy ministers will hold an emergency meeting on 9 September to discuss the crisis.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is open to discussing a price cap scheme for gas supplies at the European level, a source in Italy said, citing a text message the German economy minister sent to his colleagues across the bloc. read more

The source said Robert Habeck sent a message to EU energy ministers indicating that Berlin was open to discussing the price cap at next week’s meeting.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has pushed for a price cap and has also called for steps to decouple the cost of electricity from the price of gas. Such a move would allow European households to benefit from electricity produced from cheaper sources such as renewable energy sources.

The chief executive of German energy company Wintershall Dea said on Tuesday that the current price level meant that demand for gas would fall in the long term.

“The prices we currently have are insane. That’s nothing even a gas producer is looking for, because eventually we will massively destroy the demand for our product,” Mario Mehren told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Norway.

Benchmark Dutch wholesale gas prices rose on Tuesday afternoon after an initial decline. The first month gas contract rose 1.5% to EUR 271/MWh, down from last week’s record highs, but still trading at levels more than five times as high as a year ago.

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Report by Dominique Vidalon and Richard Lough in Paris, Giuseppe Fonte in Rome, Federico Maccioni in Milan, Holger Hansen in Berlin, Susanna Twidale in London, Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Nora Buli in Stavanger Writing by Keith Weir; adaptation by Jason Neely, Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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