Russia on Wednesday suspended gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 for three days, citing maintenance problems. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, said the gas would not reach Germany until September 3.
“Gas supplies via the Nord Stream gas pipeline will be suspended for the duration of a three-day (from August 31 to September 2, 2022) maintenance of the Trent 60 DLE gas compressor unit,” the company said on August 19. Maintenance will be carried out by Gazprom jointly with Siemens.
In July it was shut down for ten days for annual maintenance. In the past, maintenance was usually done discreetly. But as the pipeline has become a bargaining chip between Russia and the West, the company’s statements have now been made public.
What is Nord Stream 1?
Nord Stream 1 is the largest gas pipeline that transports natural gas between Russia and Europe through Germany. It runs from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. In 2021, Russia supplied almost 40% of the EU’s natural gas needs through this pipeline.
It belongs to Gazprom. The twin Nord Stream gas pipeline system can transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.
In June, Moscow reduced supplies via Nord Stream to 40%. In July, it was further reduced to 20 percent.
Along with the pipeline, Russia has completely cut off supplies to Denmark, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland, Reuters said.
Flows through Nord Stream play a vital role in filling national gas storage tanks in Germany and the EU. It is very important to provide the necessary heating in the coming winter.
Of the planned 85% of warehouse space in Germany, 83.26% have already been filled by October 1, according to Reuters. But a goal of 95 percent by November 1 can be difficult.
For the EU, the required storage level of 80 percent is close to completion, with 79.94 percent already filled.
What is the policy around Nord Stream 1?
Dmitry Peskov said in July that Moscow did not intend to completely stop gas supplies via Nord Stream 1. But “if Europe continues its course of absolutely reckless imposition of sanctions and restrictions that hit it, the situation may change.”
Russia is using critical pipeline supplies as a bargain to run its economy amid Western sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine in February.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in July that Putin was trying to wage an “open war” against Europe using the pipeline.
Why is the pipeline important to Germany?
Energy prices in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are among the lowest on the continent. This became possible thanks to the supply of cheap gas via Nord Stream 1. It also makes German manufactured goods more competitive on the international market. Russia’s threats to cut off gas supplies to Europe pose an economic threat to Germany.
In order to expand its capabilities and double supplies from Russia, Germany decided to build Nord Stream 2. But construction was halted in February after Russia attacked Ukraine.
In response, former Russian President and now Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev tweeted: “Welcome to a brave new world where very soon Europeans will pay 2,000 euros per thousand cubic meters!”