Russia has announced the suspension of gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – a major route for supplying gas to Germany – which deepens the difficulties facing Europe in securing fuel supplies during the winter season.
The pipeline accounts for more than a third of Russian gas exports to the European Union, according to data monitored by the specialized energy platform.
On Friday, September 2, 2022, Russia said that it had found faults in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline during maintenance operations, according to Reuters.
Who is responsible for stopping Nord Stream 1?
Russia’s Gazprom had announced the suspension of the pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea for maintenance, starting from Wednesday, August 31, until one in the morning GMT today, Saturday, September 3 (4 in the morning Mecca time).
But Gazprom, which is state-controlled and has a monopoly on gas exports through the pipeline, said on Friday it would not be able to safely resume deliveries until it could fix the leak at a vital turbine, and gave no new timeframe.
Siemens Energy, which usually maintains Nord Stream 1 turbines, said such a leak should not stop the pipeline from operating.
The German company added that the Portovaya compressor station, where the leak was discovered, has other turbines that enable it to continue operating.
“Leaks like this usually do not affect the operation of the turbines, and they can be repaired on site, it is a routine procedure in the scope of maintenance work,” Siemens Energy said.
Russia blamed the sanctions imposed by the West in the wake of Moscow’s attack on Kyiv in February of this year (2022), for obstructing the maintenance operations of the Nord Stream 1 line.
The European Union said this was an excuse and that Russia was using gas as an economic weapon to take revenge on the old continent.
“This is part of the Russian psychological war against us,” the head of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Michael Roth, said on Twitter.
Siemens Energy confirmed that it is not currently contracted to carry out maintenance work on the line, but it is in a state of readiness.
Capping the price of Russian gas
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said earlier that the European Union should impose a cap on the price of Russian gas to thwart what she called attempts by President Vladimir Putin to manipulate the market.
Russia has denied previous allegations of using gas as an economic weapon or manipulating the gas market.
On Friday, September 2, 2022, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said that the United States and Europe are working together to ensure adequate supplies of energy.
The spokesman added: “It is not surprising that Russia continues to use energy as a weapon against European consumers.”
Wholesale gas prices are up 400% since August (2022); This hurt European industry and households as demand recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of the Ukraine crisis.
“We see that the electricity market is no longer working because of the major disruptions that it experienced as a result of Putin’s manipulation,” von der Leyen said.
She added: A cap on the price of gas can be proposed on the supply of Russian pipelines at the European level.
The drop in Nord Stream 1 deliveries, along with reduced gas flows through Ukraine – another major route – has caused European countries to struggle to refill gas stocks during the winter and prompt many countries to launch contingency plans that could ration energy consumption and stoke fears of a recession. Economic.
European Commission spokesperson Eric Marmer wrote on Twitter, “Gazprom has armed with false pretexts to shut down Nord Stream 1, evidence of Russia’s disdain; It prefers burning gas rather than honoring contracts.”
The following chart lists European alternatives to reduce dependence on Russian gas by 2025:
Is Germany ready?
On Friday, September 2, 2022, the Group of Seven finance ministers agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil exports, and Moscow said it would halt oil sales to countries that impose a cap, adding that the move would destabilize global oil markets.
Russia is the world’s largest exporter of both crude oil and fuel.
Germany’s grid regulator said the country was better prepared to deal with Russian supply disruptions, but that households and businesses had to cut back on energy consumption.
Inflation in Berlin rose to its highest level in nearly 50 years in August (2022), and consumer confidence worsened as households prepared for higher energy bills.
Earlier on Friday, September 2, 2022, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated that there may be more disruptions in Nord Stream 1 deliveries.
“It is not Gazprom’s fault that resources are missing, so the reliability of the entire system is at risk,” he said – in response to a question if more outages are expected.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Wednesday that European sanctions on Moscow had impeded regular maintenance by Siemens.
EU governments have been preparing for the possibility that Russia will halt deliveries altogether, after Gazprom cut flows first in June (2022) and then again in July.
Germany, which is particularly dependent on Russian supplies to fill up its gas stocks before winter, is racing to fill 85% of these stocks, but Berlin says that reaching the 95% target by November 1, 2022, will be difficult unless companies use the Families have less fuel.
At the end of August (2022), the European Union succeeded in implementing its plans to fill 80% of gas stocks by October 1, but this percentage may not be enough to meet European consumption during the winter season if Russia continues to cut supplies.
Some energy-intensive European companies, such as fertilizer and aluminum producers, have cut production due to higher energy prices, while some domestic consumers have curbed use to reduce spiraling energy bills.
Russian gas supplies through Ukraine
In a related context, Russia’s Gazprom announced that it will ship 42.7 million cubic meters of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Saturday, 3 September (2022).
Flows through the entry point (Sudzha) are up slightly compared to 41.3 million cubic meters sent on Friday, September 2, but are not enough to offset the volumes of gas pumped through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
The European Union Economic Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, said today, Saturday, September 3, that the European Union expects Russia to respect the energy contracts it has signed, but is ready to face challenges if Moscow does not do so.
In response to a question about stopping the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, Gentiloni told reporters: “We expect Russia to honor the contracts it has entered into.”
“Even if Russia continues to arm itself with energy, the European Union is ready to respond,” he added, at the business conference of the Ambrositi Forum in northern Italy, referring to high gas storage levels and energy conservation plans in the winter.
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