Gazprom has fully stopped the gas flow via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe, citing the need to carry out repairs at the only gas-pumping unit remaining in operation.
In a statement, Russian energy giant Gazprom said that the halt on the Baltic Sea would last for three days, until September 3, 04:00 am Moscow time.
Earlier, Gazprom pointed out the necessity of suspension for preventive maintenance work on the unit.
“Once the work is completed and there are no technical faults in the equipment, gas transportation will be restored to 33 million cubic meters per day,” Interfax quoted the company.
The 1,224-kilometer-long Nord Stream is designed to deliver roughly 27.5 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas per year to Europe through the Baltic Sea and bypass overland routes crossing through Ukraine and Poland.
The complete cut comes after falls in the flow of Russian gas to Europe in recent months. The gas flow had been reduced to 20 percent of Nord Stream’s maximum capacity due to the shutdown of several gas turbines. One of the turbines, manufactured in Canada by Siemens Energy, was sent to Montreal for repairs. However, the manufacturer initially refused to return the repaired equipment to Germany due to Ottawa’s sanctions against Moscow, but after numerous requests, it decided to return it. On July 25, Gazprom announced the forced shutdown of another gas turbine engine at the Portovaya compressor station due to the end of the overhaul interval. As a result, only one turbine remained in operation.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has blamed EU sanctions for the suspended gas flows to Europe.
“It is actually their own sanctions that brought Europeans to this situation,” Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, adding that Russia and Gazprom as a supplier have been and still remain committed to their contractual obligations.
“But now they simply cannot fulfil them because of these restrictions and sanctions that the EU and the UK have imposed,” he explained.
Meanwhile, European politicians say Russia is using technical issues as a pretext to cut deliveries.
The EU has accused Moscow of using its energy resources as a weapon.
“Very clearly Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we must prepare for the worst-case scenario of a complete interruption of supplies,” France’s Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told France Inter radio earlier on Tuesday.
Europe’s energy crisis has worsened in recent weeks as the price of gas continued to soar to new heights. During trading on Wednesday, the price of gas in Europe surged by 5.5 percent and again exceeded $2,900 per 1,000 cubic meters on the back of the news.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, European countries have been focusing on how to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas. Officials in the US and the UK have already said their countries will stop buying Russian oil. Other European leaders have focused on limiting their imports over the next several years through conservation, finding alternative sources, and switching to wind and solar power as fast as possible.
Comprising 27 countries with a total population of 447 million people, the European Union is considered one of the largest and most prolific markets for energy exporters, given its lack of domestic resources.
Russia accounts for 25 percent of the EU’s oil imports, most of which goes toward gasoline and diesel for vehicles. According to S&P Global Commodities Insights, Russia supplies over 60 percent of Europe’s diesel imports, about 14 percent of Europe’s demand.