Maintenance of the only operable turbine of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline revealed defects. Until they are removed, the gas pipeline will remain out of service. This was announced today by the Russian gas company Gazprom. She did not specify when supplies through this pipeline could resume. However, according to the German company Siemens Energy, the identified problem does not constitute a reason to interrupt operations. Nord Stream 1 transports gas from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea and is the main route for Russian gas supplies to the European Union.
On Wednesday, Russia already interrupted supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline due to maintenance work. According to the original information, the shutdown was supposed to end on Saturday morning. However, Gazprom said today that maintenance carried out together with representatives of Siemens Energy revealed an oil leak in the Portovaya compressor station, so it is not possible to ensure safe operation.
“Such leaks usually do not affect turbine operation and can be sealed on site. It is a routine procedure as part of maintenance work,” said Siemens Energy, however. “Even in the past, the occurrence of this type of leak did not lead to the interruption of traffic,” she pointed out. In addition, she added that there are enough additional turbines in the Portovaja compressor station to ensure its operation.
Germany’s economy ministry said Germany is now much better prepared than before to stop Russian gas supplies. “The situation on the gas market is tense, but supplies are secured,” said the ministry’s spokeswoman. “We have already seen Russia’s unreliability in previous weeks, so we have continued to take measures to strengthen our independence from Russian energy imports,” she added.
According to the spokesperson, German gas storage tanks are 84.3 percent full. “We should thus reach the October goal of 85 percent already at the beginning of September,” said the spokeswoman. Germany’s network service regulator Bundesnetzagentur also pointed to the country’s greater preparedness to stop Russian supplies. At the same time, he called on German residents and businesses to reduce gas consumption.
The European Commission has accused Gazprom of stopping supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under false pretenses. “It’s further confirmation of his unreliability as a supplier,” commission spokesman Eric Mamer said. “It is also proof of the cynicism of Russia, which prefers to burn gas rather than fulfill its obligations,” he added.
The situation surrounding Russian gas supplies became more complicated when Russia launched an attack on Ukraine in February and the European Union enacted a series of anti-Russian sanctions in retaliation. Moscow reduced supplies through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to 40 percent of capacity in June, and to 20 percent in July. She attributed this to maintenance problems caused by the sanctions. But the European Union says the technical problems are just a pretext and that Moscow is using the gas as a weapon to advance its interests.
Europe without Russian gas
Germany has another recipe for an energy crisis. It proposes to change the rail transport system so that coal and other key goods are given priority over passenger transport.
Uncertainty over supplies from Russia raises concerns about gas shortages in Europe in the winter months. This led to a significant increase in European gas and electricity prices. The European Union is now considering various measures in an attempt to limit the growth of energy costs, which has a negative impact on the EU economy.
“If supplies via the Nord Stream gas pipeline are not restored and the winter is average, European gas reserves could be 26 percent full at the end of March. This is still a favorable outlook, as Europe will thus have a higher level of inventories than at the beginning of this summer,” said analyst Mauro Chavez of Wood Mackenzie. “The main risk is a scenario in which Europe faces an extremely cold winter this year. If that happens, we estimate that Europe could end the winter with stocks at eight percent, i.e. below the technical limits,” he added. According to him, this, together with the lower production of nuclear, coal and hydropower plants, could lead to the introduction of a rationing system for gas and electricity supplies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today that the European Union should also cap the price of gas transported by pipeline from Russia to mitigate the effects of market manipulation by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev responded to her words by declaring that Moscow would stop supplying gas to the Union in that case.