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Russia to cut Nord Stream gas flow by half

July 25, 2022

Russia's Gazprom said it would again reduce gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1 by 20% for 'repairs,' cutting the current flow in half. The new blow to supply comes as Europe scrambles to store gas for winter.

Nord Stream 1 terminal at Lubmin
Nord Stream delivers Russian gas to Europe via a station on Germany's Baltic coastImage: Hannibal Hanschke/REUTERS

Russian gas giant Gazprom said Monday it was cutting daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 33 million cubic metres starting Wednesday.

That would correspond to 20% of the pipeline's capacity. The current flow of gas into Germany is only at 40%.  

The company said it was halting the operation of another turbine due to the "technical condition of the engine".

The full capacity of Nord Stream 1 is over 160 cubic meters of gas exported daily. Stopping the turbine will result in reduced capacity of 33 million cubic meters. Gazprom said the production capacity is to be reduced at Russia's Portovaya compressor station.

"We are monitoring the situation very closely in close exchange with the Federal Network Agency and the gas crisis team,'' the German Economics Ministry said.

"According to our information, there is no technical reason for a reduction in deliveries,'' it added. 

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Germany's dpa news agency Monday that "Russia is breaking contracts and blaming others," adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing a "duplicitous game." 

Moscow maintains the gas flow reductions are due to repairs and technical complications brought on by European sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany says the cuts are not the result of maintenance or technical issues but are punishment for EU sanctions.

Nord Stream 1 begins north of Saint Petersburg in Russia and ends at a station near Greifswald on Germany's northern Baltic Sea coast.

Karte Infografik Nord Stream 1 und 2 EN

Russia's energy standoff with Europe

Gazprom only resumed gas deliveries via the pipeline last week after it was shut down for 10 days of scheduled work.

The new blow to supply comes as politicians in Europe have repeatedly warned that Russia could cut off gas flows this winter.

Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, has previously accused the Kremlin of using energy as a "weapon."

"Moscow is not shying away from using grain and energy deliveries as a weapon. We have to be resolute in protecting ourselves," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters last week.

On Monday, German Economy Minister Habeck said that Putin was "trying to weaken the great support for Ukraine and drive a wedge through our society."

"To do this, he stirs up uncertainty and drives up prices. We are countering this with unity and focused action. We are taking precautions to get us through the winter," Habeck added. 

On Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said EU nations that have gas supplies independent of Russia need to demonstrate solidarity with countries forced to ration gas this coming winter.

On Tuesday, EU ministers will debate a gas saving plan calling for member states to reduce demand by 15%

Von der Leyen told German news agency dpa, "Even member states that hardly purchase any Russian gas cannot escape the effects of a potential supply stop on our internal market."

EU fears Russia may cut off gas deliveries

Tension over turbines

Monday's announcement of the latest cut comes after the Russian company raised questions about the return of a different turbine that was serviced in Canada,  saying it wasn't satisfied with the documents it has received.

"Gazprom has studied...the documents, but has to acknowledge that they do not remove the previously identified risks and raise additional questions," it said in a statement.

"Additionally, there are still open questions from Gazprom regarding the EU and UK sanctions, the resolution of which is important for the delivery of the engine to Russia and the urgent overhaul of other gas turbine engines for the Portovaya compressor station," the statement said. 

Turbine maker Siemens dismissed the concerns saying the turbine that was transported from Canada to Germany could be shipped immediately. 

"The maintenance of our turbines is and remains a routine procedure. During the last 10 years of maintenance there have been no significant complications," Siemens Energy said, adding that Gazprom had not provided required customs documents. 

Last week Putin seemed to foreshadow the latest cut when he said: "There are two functioning machines there. They pump 60 million cubic meters per day ... If one is not returned, there will be one, which is 30 million cubic meters."

lo/wmr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)