Italy may declare state of alert on gas next week, Gas flows to France from Germany halted 

Two government sources on Friday said that Italy could declare the state-of-alert on gas next week if Russia continues its reduction of gas supplies to Rome.

The existing Italian gas emergency protocol has three stages. It starts with a state pre-alert at February’s end, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Next, it moves to a state alert and then to a condition of emergency.

A series of measures would be taken to reduce gas consumption, such as rationing gas to select industrial users, increasing production at coal power plants, and asking for more gas imports from other suppliers.

Gas flows to France from Germany halted

After what German officials described Friday as Russia’s politically motivated decision, to cut supplies to the European Union, gas flows from Germany to France stopped on June 15.

European leaders were blunt in blaming Russia, claiming that the reduction in gas supplies via its Nord Stream 1 pipeline was in retaliation to economic sanctions imposed on Ukraine after the war. The Kremlin claims that the cuts were premeditated.

GRTgaz, France’s gas pipeline operator, stated in a statement that gas flows from Germany had halted to France since Wednesday. They urged vigilance and the filling of national gas storage for the winter ahead.

GRTgaz noticed a halt to the physical flow between France & Germany on 15 June. It stated that the flow was in the order of 60 GWh/d by 2022 and only 10% of the interconnection point capacity.

A spokesperson for the German Economy Ministry stated that the halt was “logically a consequence” of Russian supply cuts. He also said that Germany’s security of gas supplies remained stable and that gas storage was being filled.

A spokesperson for the government said that Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed with the view that reduced flows are politically motivated. This was just a day after Mario Draghi, the Prime Minister of Italy, accused the Kremlin in a lie about technical problems that affected deliveries.

GRTgaz stated that it did not see any gas supply risk for France this summer despite the halt. Lower inbound flows from Germany were being offset by higher imports and greater capacities at methane terminals.

France’s strategic gas reserves are 56% full at the moment according to the grid operator. This is higher than the usual 50% at this time of the year.

Russia’s deputy prime minister said that a gas shortage on the European market and maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline gas turbine could be responsible for France’s halt in supplies.

According to GRTgaz, France’s main gas supplier Engie, in order to supply gas to any crisis, shippers must have a fill rate at 85% by November 1.

A spokesperson for Engie stated that he did not have any additional comments to make on Friday. Reuters was informed earlier this week by Engie that it had noticed a reduction in deliveries, but no clients were affected.

This is happening amid a power supply crisis, as French nuclear production has been reduced by a number of reactors going offline due to stress corrosion detection and deferred maintenance related to the COVID-19 crises

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