The gas pipeline was to resume service on Saturday after a maintenance operation.
The Russian giant Gazprom announced on Friday September 2 that the Nord Stream gas pipeline, vital for deliveries in Europe, will becompletely“Stopped until the repair of a turbine, when he was to resume service on Saturday after a maintenance operation.
In a statement, Gazprom said it had discovered “oil leaksin the turbine during this maintenance operation. “Until the repair (…) the transport of gas via Nord Stream is completely suspended“, said the group.
Russia was due to resume gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline on Saturday, after another three-day hiatus that has strained the nerves of Europeans, engaged in a race against time to avoid an energy crisis this winter. On Friday, Gazprom assured that it had discovered these technical problems during a technical inspection carried out with representatives of the German group Siemens, which manufactured the turbine. The Russian group reports a “oil leak” on the “cables connected to speedometers of a rotor“. On Telegram, the group posted a photo showing cables surrounded by a brownish liquid. Earlier in the day, the Kremlin claimed that the operation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline was “threatensby a shortage of spare parts due to sanctions against Moscow for its offensive in Ukraine.
Since the start of the Kremlin’s military intervention in Ukraine at the end of February, Moscow has sharply reduced its gas deliveries to Europeans, in reaction to massive Western sanctions. The Europeans, very dependent on Russian gas, accuse the Kremlin of using it as a means of pressure, which Moscow refutes, which evokes technical problems caused by the sanctions or late payments. In particular, Russia claims that the sanctions prevent the return of a Siemens turbine that had been sent to Canada for repair. Germany, where the turbine is located, ensures on the contrary that it is Moscow which is blocking the return of this key piece.
Winter is coming…
Since the start of the Kremlin’s military intervention in Ukraine at the end of February, Russia has already stopped its gas supplies, via other pipelines, to several EU countries, such as Bulgaria and Poland. And, in July, Gazprom had already carried out ten days of maintenance work on the Nord Stream gas pipeline which had then been restarted but with a further drop in deliveries.
A German official had deemed this week’s interruption “technically incomprehensible”, seeing it as a political maneuver by Russia. “We can no longer rely on Russia or Gazprom” to meet their commitments on gas deliveries, repeated this week the Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck. It now seems that fears of a total halt to Russian deliveries as winter approaches are being confirmed. To compensate for the missing quantities, Europeans are trying to find other suppliers and reduce their consumption against a backdrop of skyrocketing gas prices on the markets and the specter of recession. A total cut off from Russian gas could cut French growth by one point, said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire.
In Germany, activity is expected to contract in the second half, weighed down by the impact of soaring energy prices on the powerful industrial sector. In Europe’s largest economy, however, the threat of a gas shortage this winter seems to be receding. The country is struggling to reduce its dependence on Russia which still reached 55% of gas imports in February and considers that its efforts are starting to pay off. Projects to install several floating terminals for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) have seen a marked acceleration: the first two units should come into operation this winter. A diversification that “will help to get through the winter without major disruptions”, according to the Ministry of the Economy. Chancellor Olaf Scholz felt that Germany is now “in a much better position” to face the coming months.
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