The Wall Street Journal: “The unexpected move could complicate efforts by Germany and much of Europe to fill gas reserves and stave off widespread rationing to keep its population warm through the long continental winter—and avert factory shutdowns.”
Germany is in a state of panic as Russia plans to ‘temporarily’ shut down the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, claiming maintenance issues. On Friday, Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom made the surprise announcement that it was closing down the pipeline for three days starting August 31.
“Russia has announced that gas flow through the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 will be interrupted in late August for three days. No Natural gas will by supplied to Germany from August 31 until September 2 due to repair work, the state-owned Gazprom said on Friday,” the German newspaper Die Frankfurter Allgemeine reported.
The closure of the main gas pipeline will severely impact Europe’s, and particularly Germany’s, dwindling gas reserves as Russia further reduces energy exports to European buyers. “the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline is operating merely at one-fifth of its actual capacity,” the newspaper added.
While Russia maintains that the pipeline shutdown is purely a technical matter, Berlin fears that the Kremlin is using its stranglehold on the country’s gas supply to pressure it into easing sanctions placed in the wake of the Ukraine war. “The German government has said there are no technical reasons for Gazprom limiting supplies,” the BBC reported.
The pipeline shutdown will likely disrupt power generation and industrial production in Germany and the rest of Europe. “The unexpected move could complicate efforts by Germany and much of Europe to fill gas reserves and stave off widespread rationing to keep its population warm through the long continental winter—and avert factory shutdowns,” the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Russian decision:
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies gas from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, will be shut down from August 31 to September 2 for maintenance, Gazprom said on Friday.
“It is necessary to carry out maintenance every 1,000 hours” of operation, the Russian majority state-owned energy company said in a statement.
“On August 31, 2022, the only Trent 60 gas compression unit will be stopped for three days for maintenance” involving technicians from Germany’s Siemens, Gazprom said.
Following the maintenance, flows of 33 million cubic meters a day will resume, it added. This corresponds to 20% of the pipeline’s daily maximum output, as Nord Stream 1’s full capacity is 167 million cubic meters per day.
Due to previous allegedly necessary repairs, Gazprom had drastically reduced gas deliveries to Germany because of an absent turbine. German officials have repeatedly said the move was an attempt by Russia to punish Germany for its stance on the war in Ukraine and for imposing sanctions on Russia.
Fearing a total shutdown of Russian gas delivery, a senior member of Germany ruling coalition called the government official called the government to reopened the Nord Stream 2 pipeline frozen by Berlin in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Deutsche Welle added:
Earlier on Friday, Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats (FDP), a junior coalition partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, suggested that opening Russia’s blocked Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be the answer to a looming energy emergency in the winter. However, his statements met with widespread criticism, including from his own FDP.
It is worth noting that President Donald Trump had threatened to sanction the joint Russo-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It was President Joe Biden, who in July 2021 after meeting the then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, waived all objections raised by his predecessor. In late February, the pipeline project was nearing its completion as Russia invaded Ukraine.
Germans Brace for a Cold Winter
As Russia reduces delivery, Germany has been forced to ration the supply of gas to industry, power plants and households. German cities are cutting down on street lighting, and the supply of warm water to schools, sports clubs, and public offices has been slashed. Government offices have been told to cut on heating as Germany prepares for a cold winter.
Gas prices in Germany are touching skies, and this is not a hyperbole. “The electricity and gas prices are going through the roof,” the German newspaper Bild reported last Friday. “The electricity already costs more than four times as much as it did a year ago, and gas seven folds as much.” The government is also charging gas consumers a “surcharge” to bail out German gas suppliers on the verge of bankruptcy, the daily added.DONATE
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