Russia’s Gazprom to Shut Nord Stream Gas Flows to Europe from Aug 31
Russia-owned multinational energy corporation, Gazprom has announced that it will stop all gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline from August 31 until September 2, to undergo routine maintenance.
The reason for the 3-day suspension of gas flows via the pipeline would be due to maintenance work at the Trent 60 gas compressor station, which would be carried out with Siemens.
Experts say the unscheduled maintenance order on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, will naturally deepen the energy standoff between Moscow and Brussels which has already helped send inflation surging in the region and raised the risk of rationing and recession.
The maintenance was not planned and is expected to escalate tensions between Russia and the EU, and squeeze Germany, already in the midst of an energy crisis, by restricting gas supplies even more.
In a statement posted online last Friday, Gazprom said, “A set of routine maintenance in accordance with the current maintenance contract will be carried out jointly with Siemens specialists.”
Flows via Nord Stream have been reduced since mid-June after regularly scheduled maintenance continues to drag out over a gas turbine that was repaired by Siemens but never put back into operation.
Siemens claims that the work on the turbine has been complete for weeks, and that it has been waiting in Germany for Gazprom to supply the necessary customs documents for its return.
The shutdown comes a month after Gazprom restored natural gas supply through the pipeline to only a fifth of its capacity after a previous shutoff for maintenance.
On the other hand Russia has insisted that the reductions through the pipeline are results of technical problems, but Germany calls them a political move to sow uncertainty and push up prices amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Germany has already had to give Uniper, the country’s largest importer of Russian gas and the highest-profile corporate victim of Europe’s energy crisis so far, a 15 billion euro ($15.1bn) bailout last month after Russia drastically cut flows, forcing it to buy gas elsewhere at much higher prices.
Experts say the announcement about the 3-day shutdown raises additional fears that Russia could completely cut off gas that is used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes to try to gain political leverage over Europe as it tries to boost its storage levels for winter.
Natural gas prices have surged as Russia has reduced or cut off natural gas flows to a dozen European Union countries, worsening inflation and raising the risk that Europe could plunge into recession.
Gazprom has however promised to return supply as work is completed. “The flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 will resume in line with current volumes of 33 million cubic meters a day, about 20% of the pipeline’s nominal capacity,” Gazprom, said, adding however that Siemens has not provided it with the necessary documents that would allow the turbine to be returned despite sanctions.
The feud—which has now spilled over into Twitter with the two sides battling about the turbine by posting playlists for the lonely turbine—would be comical if it weren’t for the havoc the reduced gas shipments have had on Europe’s gas prices.
Before the original turbine was sent off for repair, Germany warned that Russia may not resume the flow via Nord Stream when the repair work was complete—retaliation for the sanctions against Moscow.
“Based on the pattern we’ve seen, it would not be very surprising now if some small, technical detail is found and then they could say ‘now we can’t turn it on any more’,” Germany said at the time.