Russia cancels reopening of Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline


Russia announced Friday that the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline which supplies Europe would not restart as planned on Saturday, explaining that it detected an oil leak during maintenance operations in recent days.

Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to connect Russia with Germany and other Western European countries, was operating at 20% capacity before it was shut down on Thursday for a maintenance phase that was expected to last three days, and it was scheduled to reopen at 01:00 GMT on Saturday.

But Gazprom, the public group which holds the monopoly on exports by gas pipeline of natural gas extracted in Russia, announced at the end of the day that it could not resume deliveries via Nord Stream 1 under satisfactory security conditions as long as it would not have plugged the oil leak identified on a turbine essential to the proper functioning of the gas pipeline.

Russia had previously questioned the Western sanctions against it, explaining that they complicated the operation of the gas pipeline and its maintenance.

But Brussels believes that this argument is a pretext and that Moscow has chosen to use gas as an economic weapon in retaliation for the sanctions.

“This is part of Russia’s psychological warfare,” Michael Roth, chairman of the German Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter on Friday.

BRUSSELS REFLECTS A CEILING FOR THE PRICE OF RUSSIAN GAS

Ahead of Gazprom’s announcement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was time for the EU to impose a gas price cap on Russia to foil what it has presented as an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to manipulate the energy market.

Wholesale gas prices have increased fivefold since August 2021, a surge that began with the post-pandemic economic rebound but accelerated after the Russian army invaded Ukraine in late February.

“We see that the electricity market no longer works because it is heavily disrupted by Putin’s manipulations,” said Ursula von der Leyen, adding that a cap on gas prices sold by Russia could be proposed. on a European scale.

For former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, also former Prime Minister of Vladimir Putin and now Vice-President of the Russian National Security Council, Russia would stop supplying gas to Europe if this project materialized.

GERMANY BETTER PREPARED FOR A STOP IN DELIVERIES

In Germany, the Ministry of the Economy assured that the country was better prepared than in the past for the risk of interruption of gas deliveries.

“We have no particular comments to make (on Gazprom’s announcement) but we have seen Russia’s unreliability in recent weeks and we have continued to take steps to strengthen our independence from oil imports. energy from Russia,” a ministry spokesman said.

The German group Siemens Energy, a major supplier of gas pipeline equipment and which usually carries out maintenance operations on the Nord Stream 1 turbines, has said that it is not associated with the work currently being carried out by Gazprom but is ready to help. , specifying that maintenance was not affected by European sanctions.

The Gazprom statement, however, cites statements by Siemens that the necessary repairs to the turbine after the leak was detected could only be carried out under “special workshop conditions”.

Siemens did not immediately comment on the statement.

In France, where President Emmanuel Macron convened a defense council devoted to energy on Friday, the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, stressed that gas stocks were 92% full and expressed her confidence in the ability of the French to avoid binding energy rationing measures.

Before her, the general manager of Engie, Catherine MacGregor, had declared that the group was “relatively calm about the gas situation in France”. Gazprom interrupted its deliveries to Engie on Thursday, citing unpaid bills, which the French group disputes.

The European Union as a whole is supposed to have gas stocks representing 80% of its capacity by October 1st. In Germany, the occupancy rate reached 84.3%, said the Ministry of the Economy.

A few hours before Gazprom’s announcement, G7 finance ministers announced that they had agreed to put a ceiling on the price of imported Russian oil, in order to limit Moscow’s income due to the war in Ukraine.


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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