On July 11, the flow of gas between Russia and Germany via both lines of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline stopped completely as annual maintenance work on the pipeline began. Governments and companies in Europe have since voiced concerns that Russian authorities could prolong the shutdown to undermine plans to shore up regional energy storage capacity for the upcoming winter.
Gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumed at 06:00 local time on July 21, however, flows are reportedly running at only 30% of capacity and it remains unclear whether run levels will increase in the coming days. Many countries in Europe are still bracing for the worst, with the European Commission releasing a proposal on July 20 asking member states to voluntarily reduce gas usage from August 1 to March 31 by 15%. If approved, it would also allow authorities in Brussels to make the 15% reduction a mandatory target during a supply emergency.
Beyond external supply issues, plans to shore up energy reserves in the region have also been threatened by a series of strikes in the European energy sector in recent weeks. In Norway, a strike briefly disrupted production at several offshore facilities operated by state-owned energy company Equinor ASA before the government intervened to end the strike. Several labour unions in Spain staged a strike action at Repsol S.A., a Spanish energy and petrochemical conglomerate, from July 15 to 17, with more strikes expected in mid-August if a dispute over wages cannot be resolved. Operations were also impacted at several gas storage sites in the French towns of Chemery, Céré-la-Ronde and Benoît Seyer, where workers of Storengy SAS, a subsidiary of oil, gas, and energy conglomerate Engie SA, staged intermittent strike actions for several weeks to demand a salary increase.
Energy shortages cause growing number of manufacturing disruptions across Europe
Warnings of widespread manufacturing impacts due to insufficient gas supply and rising costs for available energy sources continue to reverberate particularly in Germany as fears of a complete cut off from Russian energy imports intensify. In mid-July, Robert Bosch GmbH, a multinational engineering and technology company, joined a growing list of industrial heavyweights warning of operational impacts at its plants, including a semiconductor factory in Dresden, if Russian gas supply remains curtailed.