[Source: BBC News]
The head of the International Energy Agency has warned that Russia may stop supplying gas to Europe this winter.
Fatih Birol says he believes a complete shutdown is not the most likely scenario but that Europe needs to work on contingency plans just in case.
In recent weeks, several European countries said they received significantly less Russian gas than they expected.
Russian officials deny it’s deliberate and has blamed technical issues.
Before the invasion of Ukraine, Europe imported about 40% of its natural gas from Russia but that figure has now fallen to about 20%.
Mr Birol says he believes that recent Russian reductions in gas supply are “strategic”. The falls are making it harder for European countries to fill up their gas storage and increasing Russia’s leverage this winter.
“I wouldn’t rule out Russia continuing to find different issues here and there, and continuing to find excuses to further reduce gas deliveries to Europe and maybe even cut it off completely,” Mr Birol told BBC News.
Last week the flow of natural gas through Nord Stream 1, one of the main pipelines from Russia to Europe, was just 40% of capacity. Many experts are sceptical of the Russian explanation that this was caused by “technical issues”.
Across Europe, shortfalls in gas supply continue to be reported. On Friday the Italian firm energy firm Eni said that it had only received half of the gas that it was expecting from the Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, while Slovakia and Austria have also reported falls.