Key gas pipeline linking Russia to Europe restarts after hiatus

Natural gas began flowing through a major gas pipeline from Russia to Europe on Thursday after a 10-day shutdown for maintenance, the operator said. But the gas flow was expected to be well below full capacity.

The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany had been closed since July 11 for annual maintenance work. Amid growing tensions over Russia’s war in Ukraine, German officials feared the pipeline – the country’s main source of Russian gas, which accounts for about a third of Germany’s gas supplies – would not reopen from the start. everything.

Operator Nord Stream AG said gas had started flowing again on Thursday morning, but the flow would take some time to increase, German news agency dpa reported.

Deliveries were expected to fall well below the full capacity of the pipeline. Nord Stream said a similar amount of gas to what was seen before the maintenance was expected. The head of the German network regulator, Klaus Mueller, said on Twitter that Russia’s Gazprom had notified deliveries of only around 30% of the pipeline’s capacity on Thursday.

In mid-June, the Russian state company Gazprom reduced the flow to 40% of its capacity. He cited alleged technical issues involving equipment that partner Siemens Energy sent to Canada for overhaul and which could not be returned due to sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Ottawa authorized delivery to Germany of the turbine that powers a compressor station at the Russian end of the pipeline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent comments on Gazprom turbine repairs have been interpreted by many as a threat to cut off Europe’s access to Russian gas. (Alexey Maishev/Sputnik/Kremlin pool/Associated Press)

The German government has dismissed Gazprom’s technical explanation for the gas cut, repeatedly accusing it was a pretext for a political move to sow uncertainty and further drive up gas prices. ‘energy. He said the turbine was a replacement not due to be installed until September, but he was doing everything to deprive Russia of the pretext to cut supplies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Gazprom had still not received the relevant documents for the return of the turbine – a claim repeated by Gazprom on Wednesday. Putin said Gazprom was due to shut down another turbine for repairs at the end of July, and if the one that was sent to Canada was not returned by then, gas flow would decline even further.

The head of the European Union’s Executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday the turbine was “in transit” and there was “no excuse not to deliver” gas.

The Commission has proposed that member countries cut their gas consumption by 15% over the next few months as the bloc prepares for a possible total cut off of gas supplies from Russia.