Russia cuts off gas supply to Germany » Capital News


Moscow (AFP), September 3 – Russia has halted gas deliveries to Germany through a key pipeline indefinitely, after saying on Friday it had found problems in key equipment, a development that will deepen Europe’s energy crisis.

Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Friday that the Nord Stream gas pipeline which was due to reopen this weekend would remain closed until a turbine was repaired.

In a statement, Gazprom said it discovered “oil leaks” in a turbine during a scheduled three-day maintenance operation.

Gazprom added that “until it is fixed… gas transport via Nord Stream is completely suspended.”

The resumption of deliveries via the pipeline that goes from Saint Petersburg to Germany under the Baltic Sea was to resume on Saturday.

Gazprom said it discovered the issues during maintenance with representatives of Siemens, which manufactured the turbine at a compressor station that pushes gas through the pipeline.

On his Telegram page, he posted a photo of cables covered in brown liquid.

Earlier in the day, the Kremlin warned that the future operation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, one of Gazprom’s main supply routes, was at risk due to a lack of spare parts.

“There are no technical reserves, only one turbine is working,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

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“So the reliability of the operation, of the whole system, is at risk,” he said, adding that it was “not the fault” of Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The turbine manufacturer Siemens Energy said in a statement that the oil leaks blamed by Gazprom were “not a technical reason to stop operations”.

“Such leaks generally do not affect the operation of a turbine and can be patched on site,” he said, adding that he was “not contracted for maintenance work.”

Following the imposition of economic sanctions following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia has reduced or interrupted supplies to various European countries, causing energy prices to spike.

The Kremlin blamed the cut in supplies via Nord Stream on European sanctions which it said blocked the return of a Siemens turbine for repair to Canada.

Germany, where the turbine is currently located, said Moscow was blocking the return of essential equipment.

Berlin has already accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon.

Gazprom’s announcement comes the same day G7 countries said they would work to quickly implement a price cap on Russian oil exports, a move that would deprive the Kremlin of revenue critical to its effort of war.

Gazprom also announced the suspension of gas deliveries to the main French supplier Engie from Thursday after it failed to pay for all deliveries made in July.

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– ‘Much better placed’ –

As winter approaches, European nations are looking to fully fill their gas reserves, secure alternative supplies and implement plans to reduce consumption.

However, a long-term shutdown of Russian gas supplies would complicate some countries’ efforts to avoid shortages and rationing.

Germany said on Friday its gas supplies were secure despite stopping deliveries via Nord Stream.

“The situation on the gas market is tense, but security of supply is guaranteed,” a spokeswoman for the economy ministry said in a statement.

The spokeswoman did not comment on the “substance” of Gazprom’s announcement earlier on Friday, but said Germany had “already seen Russia’s unreliability in recent weeks”.

German officials have recently adopted a more positive tone about the coming winter.

Ahead of the latest shutdown, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany was now “in a much better position” in terms of energy security, having met its gas storage targets much earlier than expected.

Europe as a whole also continued to fill its gas storage tanks, while fears of limited supplies prompted companies to cut energy consumption.

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German industry consumed 21.3% less gas in July than the average for the month from 2018 to 2021, the Federal Network Agency said.

Agency chief Klaus Mueller said such preventive action “could save Germany from a gas emergency this winter”.

Meanwhile, Europe as a bloc is preparing to take urgent action to reform the electricity market to rein in runaway prices.

Fear of natural gas shortages pushed power futures in France and Germany to record highs.

European consumers are also bracing for huge electricity bills as utilities pass on their higher energy costs.

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