the giant Gazprom extends the suspension of Nord Stream until the repair of a turbine

the giant Gazprom extends the suspension of Nord Stream until the repair of a turbine
A turbine of the Nord Stream gas pipeline at the Siemens Energy plant, where the engine is stored after maintenance work carried out in Canada, in Muelheim, Germany, August 3, 2022.

The Russian giant Gazprom announced, Friday evening September 2, that the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which was to resume service on Saturday after maintenance, will finally be ” completely “ stopped until the repair of a turbine of this vital pipeline for the supply of Europeans.

In a statement, Gazprom said it had discovered “oil leaks” in the turbine, during this maintenance operation in a compressor station located in Russia. “Until the repair (…)the transport of gas by Nord Stream is completely suspended”said the group, without specifying how long this repair could last.

This rebound will further accentuate the anxiety of Europeans, who are struggling to avoid an energy crisis this winter and accuse Moscow of using gas as a weapon to avenge Western sanctions after the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

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Maintenance operations

The Gazprom group was to resume its gas deliveries on Saturday by Nord Stream, which links Russia to northern Germany, after a new three-day interruption for these maintenance operations.

Gazprom claimed to have discovered this ” oil leak “ during a technical inspection carried out with representatives of the German group Siemens, which manufactured the turbine. The Russian group reports this oil leak on “cables connected to speedometers of a rotor”. On Telegram, the group posted a photo showing cables surrounded by a brownish liquid.

These technical problems prevent us from ensuring “safe operation of the gas turbine engine”supports Gazprom, relying on a warning from the Russian Civil Industry Monitoring Agency.

Earlier in the day, the Kremlin had claimed that only one turbine was operating there and that Nord Stream activity was “threatened” by a shortage of spare parts due to sanctions against Moscow. Moscow claims in particular that these sanctions prevent the return of a Siemens turbine which had been sent to Canada for repair. Germany, where the turbine is located, assures that it is Russia that is blocking the return of this key piece.

Turbine maker Siemens Energy said Friday that the leak does not technically justify shutting down the pipeline. “As a turbine manufacturer, we can affirm that such a finding does not constitute a technical reason to stop operations”Siemens Energy said in a statement, noting that in the past the appearance “of this type of leak did not lead to the cessation of operations”.

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“We can no longer trust Russia or Gazprom”

Since the beginning of the military intervention of the Kremlin in Ukraine, at the end of February, Russia has already stopped its supplies of gas, by other pipelines, to several countries of the European Union, 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 was then restarted, but with a further drop in deliveries.

A German official had judged this week’s interruption “technically incomprehensible”seeing it as a political maneuver by Russia. “We can no longer trust Russia or Gazprom” to respect their commitments on gas deliveries, repeated this week the Minister of the 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 the Minister of the Economy, 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.

Projects to install several floating terminals for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) have seen a marked acceleration in Germany: the first two units should come into operation this winter. A diversification that “will help get through the winter without major disruptions”according to the German Ministry of Economics.

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The World with AFP

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