Russia extends shutdown of crucial gas pipeline for Europeans
The Russian giant Gazprom has announced 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 in this vital pipeline for supplying Europeans.
In a press release, Gazprom indicated Friday evening to have discovered “oil leaks” in the turbine, during this maintenance operation in a compressor station located in Russia.
“Until the repair (…), the transport of gas via Nord Stream is completely suspended”, indicated 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.
The Gazprom group was to resume its gas deliveries on Saturday via 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 “safe operation of the gas turbine engine”, maintains Gazprom, relying on a warning from the Russian Civil Industry Monitoring Agency.
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin claimed only one turbine was operating there and that Nord Stream’s business was ‘threatened’ by a shortage of spare parts due to sanctions targeting 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.
Winter is coming…
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, via 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 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 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 experienced a marked acceleration in Germany: the first two units should come into operation this winter.
A diversification which “will help to pass the winter without major disruptions”, according to the German Ministry of the Economy.
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