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German energy regulator says Gazprom cuts could spell trouble in winter

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FILE PHOTO: A cyclist passes the headquarters of Gazprom Germania in Berlin
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Russian Gazprom's move to cut supplies of gas to Germany is a warning signal that could cause problems for Europe's biggest economy in winter, the head of Germany's Bundesnetzagentur energy regulator told a newspaper on Thursday

Gazprom on Wednesday announced a further cut in the amount of gas it can pump through the Nord Stream 1, meaning the pipeline will run at just 40% capacity.

"It would significantly worsen our situation," regulator chief Klaus Mueller told the Rheinische Post daily.

"We could perhaps get through the summer as the heating season is over. But it is imperative that we fill the storage facilities to get through the winter," he said.

Asked if he feared that Russia was serious about freezing gas supplies, Mueller said: "It has so far been Russia's logic to want to continue selling gas to Germany. But we can't rule anything out."

He reiterated his view that Gazprom's explanation that the cut was due to delays getting Siemens Energy equipment that was undergoing maintenance in Canada, was technically "unfounded" and aimed at driving up gas prices.

As Germany tries to reduce its dependency on Russian energy, it is speeding up plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and Mueller said he would welcome a floating terminal at Lubmin, on the Baltic Sea.

"A floating terminal at Lubmin is being looked at, there are talks at the moment," said Mueller, adding the Baltic Sea, as well as North Sea, was being considered to ensure sufficient capacity supply in southern Germany with gas from the coast.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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