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August 20
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Russia could be planning to use a regular maintenance break on the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline as an opportunity to cut the natural gas supply to Germany completely, making it vital to save as much natural gas as possible, a German official has told newspapers, DW reported, citing dpa and AFP.

The question was whether the planned 11-day maintenance period, due to start July 11, will "become a longer [period] of political maintenance," Klaus Muller, the head of the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzwerkagentur), told Saturday newspapers from the Funke Media Group.

He said that if the natural gas supply from Russia "is reduced longer for political reasons, we have to talk more seriously about ways to cut consumption."

Russia has already cut or reduced its natural gas supply to several European countries amid tensions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Home and apartment owners should use the 12 weeks remaining before the heating season starts to prepare for such an eventuality, Muller said.

He said natural gas boilers and heaters should be urgently inspected to ensure their efficient operation.

"Maintenance checks can reduce natural gas consumption by 10 to 15%," he said. "It should be done now and not in the fall."

He called on tradespeople working in the sector to concentrate on heating and hot-water systems to avoid problems getting appointments.

However, he stressed that natural gas was the only energy source currently at risk.

"The crisis situation applies to [natural] gas, and not electricity," he said, adding that fuel and oil were not in short supply.

Muller also said that priorities would have to be set if there were to be a shortage of natural gas.

"We cannot class every business as essential," he said, adding that "public swimming pools are probably not in the critical sector, just like the production of chocolate cookies." 

But he emphasized that his agency predicted "no scenario in which no natural gas at all reaches Germany," saying that Norway and the Netherlands were other potential sources.

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