– President Vladimir Putin on Thursday touted Turkey as the best route for redirecting gas supplies to the Europe Union after the Nord Stream leaks, despite the region’s growing efforts to wean itself off Russian energy.
Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey could act as a gas hub, having suggested on Wednesday that Russia could reroute supplies intended for the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea, which were damaged last month.
The mysterious pipeline blasts, blamed on sabotage by both Moscow and the West, has Europe on edge over energy security as it faces soaring prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a sign of the state of high alert, Norwegian police said they had dealt with a threat made by telephone against the Nyhamna gas processing plant, one of Europe’s largest energy export facilities. A suspect had been identified and was known to have made similar threats in the past, the police said.
Norway has become an increasingly important source of gas for the EU and Britain after Russia curtailed supplies.
Meanwhile, Poland said it had begun repairs to a pipeline carrying Russian oil to Germany and that it did not think Tuesday’s leak, which curtailed flows to a German refinery that is a major fuel supplier to the capital Berlin, was sabotage.
The impact of efforts to use less Russian energy, plus steep cuts in supplies from Russia, have been felt across the 27-nation EU, with gas prices almost 90% higher than a year ago and fears of rationing and power cuts over the coming winter.
Putin said that increased cooperation with Turkey, which is not a member of the EU, could help to regulate prices.
“In the course of the work of this hub, which we could create together, of course, it would also be a platform not only for supplies, but also for determining the price, because this is a very important issue – the issue of pricing,” Putin told Erdogan at a meeting in Kazakhstan.
“Today, these prices are sky-high; we could easily regulate [them] at a normal market level, without any political overtones.”
Russia separately said it had summoned diplomats from Germany, Denmark and Sweden to complain that representatives from Moscow and gas company Gazprom GAZP.MM had not been invited to join an investigation into the Nord Stream leaks.
Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the blasts as sabotage but have not said who they think was behind them.
In Germany, there were signs that households and small and medium-sized businesses were heeding calls to cut energy usage as consumption last week fell below the average of previous years, partly thanks to warmer weather.
“These are just snapshots but we can see the first efforts to save,” Bundesnetzagentur agency chief Klaus Mueller said, adding that savings of at least 20% were necessary even in cold weather to get Germany comfortably through the winter.
The EU is working on further measures to respond to the crisis, but Ireland’s energy minister said he did not expect a price cap on gas for power generation to be agreed next week.
“I wouldn’t rule it out but not immediately because there are huge potential adverse consequences and I don’t think there will be agreement on that next week,” Eamon Ryan told the Newstalk radio station.