German buyers of Russian natural gas resumed nominations for supply on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for the first time since the crucial pipeline was shut down for maintenance about three weeks ago, according to German pipeline data.
Russia halted flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, on Aug. 31 for what was supposed to be three days of maintenance.
The shutdown exacerbated Europe's worst gas supply crisis ever, with energy prices soaring and German importers even discussing possible rationing in the European Union's biggest economy.
Moscow has blamed sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia invaded Ukraine, for hampering routine operations and the maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels says this is a pretext and Russia is using gas as an economic weapon to retaliate.
Nord Stream 1 is by far the biggest Russian gas pipeline to Europe, carrying up to 59.2 billion cubic metres of gas per year.
The nominations are requests for a supply of gas and are not indications that gas is actually flowing on the system.
Earlier this month, Gazprom’s Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov told Reuters Nord Stream 1 would not resume pumping until Siemens Energy repaired faulty equipment. Siemens Energy said it could not comprehend the information provided by Gazprom.
"Our assessment is that the finding communicated to us does not represent a technical reason for stopping operation. Such leaks do not normally affect the operation of a turbine and can be sealed on site," it added.
European gas prices have more than doubled from the start of the year amid a decline in Russian supplies.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Russia had anything to do with Europe's energy crisis, saying that if the European Union wanted more gas it should lift sanctions preventing the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Nord Stream 2, which runs almost in parallel to Nord Stream 1, was built a year ago, but Germany decided not to proceed with it just days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Buyers nominated for 3,652,554 kilowatt hours per hour (kwh/h) of gas via Nord Stream 1 between 08:00-09:00 CET on Sept. 19 for delivery to the OPAL gas pipeline in eastern Germany, data on the OPAL pipeline website showed.
Buyers for the NEL gas pipeline nominated 14,291,845 kwh/h of gas during the same time period, according to data from NEL.