(Lubmin) Three days without Russian gas: Europeans are on alert again after a disruption to deliveries through the Nord Stream pipeline on Wednesday for maintenance work amid rising energy prices.
Posted at 6:38 am
Announced this summer by the Russian giant Gazprom, this interruption is linked to the “necessary” work at a compressor station, located in Russia, of this gas pipeline that directly connects the Siberian gas fields with northern Germany, from where it is exported gas to other European countries.
Gas flow effectively dropped to zero in the early hours of Wednesday, according to data published online by the European gas transportation network Entsog and by the company’s Nord Stream site.
Gazprom announced for its part on Wednesday that it had “totally” suspended its gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream. Work “planned on a gas compression station has started,” the Russian group said in a statement posted on its Telegram account.
These maintenance works, scheduled until Saturday, must be carried out “every 1000 hours”, he had previously assured Gazprom, owner of the gas pipeline.
But in the context of the war in Ukraine, energy is at the center of a standoff between Moscow and the West, which regularly accuse Russia of using gas “as a weapon.”
Gazprom has reduced the quantities delivered by Nord Stream by 80% in recent months.
For the head of the German Network Agency, Klaus Müller, the work he is starting is “technically incomprehensible”.
Experience shows that Russia “makes a political decision after each so-called ‘maintenance,'” he observed.
prices are jumping
In addition to fears of energy shortages next winter, as a result of lower gas deliveries, there is a new jump in electricity prices that have reached record levels in recent days, which could trigger consumer bills Europeans.
Asked about the resumption of flows after the three-day break, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Western capitals “have imposed sanctions against Russia, which do not allow normal maintenance and repair work to be carried out.”
Statements that are not very reassuring in view of past events: in July, Gazprom had already carried out ten days of maintenance work on the Nord Stream.
The company had reopened the gas tap at the end of this work, but reducing a little more the quantities delivered, which currently stand at 20% of the normal capacity of the gas pipeline.
The fault, according to Moscow, of a missing turbine that could not be returned to Russia due to sanctions. Germany, where the turbine is located, says on the contrary that it is Moscow that is blocking the return of this key piece.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Nord Stream carried about a third of the 153 billion m3 of gas purchased annually by the EU.
Hard work pays off
In Lubmin, the Baltic Sea port where the pipeline ends, there is also uncertainty: “In July it was regular maintenance planned for a long time, this time it was not planned and we do not know what is behind this operation.” an official from Gascade, a company that transports gas delivered by Nord Stream throughout Germany, told AFP.
Faced with the risk of a major energy crisis this winter, Europe’s leading economy has been struggling for several months to find alternatives to Russian gas, on which it is especially dependent, and reduce its consumption.
These efforts are beginning to bear fruit, Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday, for whom Germany is now “in a much better position” to face the coming months.
The gas storage target set by Berlin for October, 85%, should be reached “from the beginning of September”, according to the Government.
For its part, German industry, especially energy-intensive, consumed 21.3% less gas in July compared to the average for the same months between 2018 and 2021.
And the increase in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is on the right track: several floating terminals should come online this winter.
The first of these must equip the port of Lubmin and allow it to compensate for part of the volumes that no longer arrive by Nord Stream.
“We hope to be able to inject gas into the distribution network on 1Ahem December,” said Stephan Knabe of Deutsche ReGas, the company behind this LNG terminal project.
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