European gas prices have surged 30 percent in two days after Russia deepened supply cuts to the continent in Moscow’s latest attempt to weaponize energy supplies.

Futures contracts for delivery next month tied to “ITF, the European benchmark wholesale gas price, jumped 20 percent on Tuesday to breach €210 per megawatt hour, the highest level since early March, a day after Russia warned of lighter flows on the largest pipeline supplying the region. Prices are more than 10 times higher than the average between 2010 and 2020.

Russian state-backed energy group Gazprom on Monday said flows on the Nord Stream 1 (NSI) pipeline would plummet to 33mn cubic metres from Wednesday because of turbine maintenance issues. That would amount to a fifth of the pipeline’s capacity and half of the current levels.

“Everyone in the market was expecting Russian volumes to drop,” said James Huckstepp, manager of Emea gas analytics at S&P Global Commodity Insights, a consultancy. “But the market wasn’t expecting flows to fall this quickly.”

European gas prices shoot higher

The rise in gas prices came as EU ministers struck a watered-down deal on Tuesday to reduce gas consumption by 15 per cent over winter with exemptions for certain member states less dependent on Russian gas.

The higher gas prices indicate the mounting pressure on Europe to seek alternative supplies to keep homes warm and industry operating through the coming winter. Failing that, politicians are warning that gas will have to be rationed for businesses, factories and even households.

Benchmark power prices in Germany were pushed to a fresh record high of

€370 per MWh by the rise for gas, a fuel used to generate electricity.