Coal comeback? Russia could force Europe's hand

STORY: Europe biggest buyers of Russian gas are racing to find alternative fuel supplies, and some may even turn back to coal.

With Europe and Russia at odds over the Ukraine war, some European leaders face the threat of an energy crisis this winter if gas stores are not refilled.

Italy’s Eni said it was told by Russia’s Gazprom it would receive only part of its request for gas supplies Monday (June 20).

That has pushed the country closer to declaring a state of alert which could lead to gas saving measures.

Germany has also faced lower Russian flows.

The country announced Sunday (June 19) it planned to boost gas storage levels.

It even said it could restart coal-fired power plants it had aimed to phase out.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck called the measure ‘painful’ but a ‘sheer necessity’.

Otherwise, he said, Germany could be ‘blackmailable’ at a political level.

Habeck is a member of the Green Party that has pushed a for a quicker exit from coal - which produces more greenhouse gases.

Russian gas flows to Germany through the Nord Steam 1 pipeline were still running at about 40% of capacity Monday.

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom last week cut throughput along Nord Stream 1 - which is the main route supplying Europe’s largest economy.

It blamed the apparent return of equipment being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy.

But German and Italian officials have said Russia was using that as an excuse to reduce supplies.