Pipes at the landfall section of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline» in Lubmin, Germany. March 8, 2022. Stop «Nord Stream-1» for scheduled maintenance raises concerns in Germany
«Gazprom» will stop fuel delivery for ten days, but in Berlin and other European capitals they fear that Moscow may find an excuse not to resume it
The largest pipeline that brings Russian gas to Germany stops pumping fuel on Monday due to annual maintenance. The shutdown is expected to last ten days, but governments, markets and companies fear the shutdown could be extended due to the war in Ukraine.
The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline delivers 55 billion cubic meters gas per year from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It stops for maintenance from 11 to 21 July.
In June, Russia cut gas supplies to 40 percent of the pipeline's total capacity, citing a delay in returning equipment that was maintained by Germany's Siemens Energy in Canada.
Canada said over the weekend that it would return the repaired turbine, while announcing that he would expand sanctions against the Russian energy sector.
Europe fears Russia could extend scheduled maintenance to further cut gas supplies to Europe, which could derail plans to fill storage ahead of winter and exacerbate a gas crisis that has forced governments to take emergency measures and resulted in painfully high consumer bills.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said his country should take into account the possibility that Russia will suspend gas supplies via Nord Stream 1 after the end of the scheduled maintenance period.
“Based on the typical pattern that we saw earlier, it would not be very surprising if some small detail comes up, and then they can say that “now we can’t turn it on,” he said at an event in late June.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed claims that Russia is using oil and gas to exert political pressure. He stressed that the maintenance is planned and “no one invented any new repairs.”
There are other major gas pipelines from Russia to Europe, but gas flows through them are gradually declining, especially after Ukraine blocked one of the gas transit routes in May, blaming occupying Russian forces for interference.
Russia is completely has cut off gas supplies to several European countries that have not met its demands for payment in rubles.
Germany has moved into the second stage of a three-stage plan to reduce gas consumption. The next step involves the regulation of fuel consumption by the government.
Berlin also warned of a recession if gas flows from Russia ceased. According to estimates by the Bavarian Industry Association – vbw, the economic cost of this could amount to 193 billion euros in the second half of the year.
“The abrupt cessation of Russian gas imports will also have a significant impact on the German workforce… 6 million jobs,” vbw managing director Bertram Brossardt said.
The impact will be even greater. A complete shutdown of supplies will cause European gas prices, which have already hurt industry and households, to stay high for longer.
Wholesale gas prices in the Netherlands, the European benchmark, have July last year rose by more than 400 percent.
“If Nord Stream is shut down, or if Germany loses all Russian imports, then all of northwestern Europe will feel it,” said the energy minister. Netherlands Rob Jetten.