Nord Stream 1: Russia shuts major gas pipeline to Europe

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Image Source: Deccan Herald

Russia has halted all gas shipments to Europe via a major pipeline, citing the necessity for repairs. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, said the limits on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would last three days.

Russia has already decreased pipeline gas shipments dramatically. It denies using energy resources as a weapon of war against Western countries.

According to Russia, the pipeline was shut down for ten days in July for maintenance. It had recently been working at about 20% capacity due to what Russia claims as malfunctioning equipment.

Germany’s network regulator’s president has stated that the country will be able to manage if Russia restores delivery in the coming days.

European authorities are concerned that Russia would prolong the outage in order to push up gas prices, which have already climbed dramatically in the last year. The sharp increase threatens to cause a cost of living catastrophe during winter, potentially requiring governments to spend billions of dollars to alleviate the load.

On Tuesday, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France’s Energy Transition Minister, accused Russia of “using gas as a weapon of war.” She was speaking after Gazprom announced it would stop supplying gas to the French energy business Engie.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has denied the charges, claiming that Western sanctions have caused the disruptions by causing damage to Russian infrastructure. He emphasized that “technical challenges” imposed by sanctions were the only thing keeping Russia from providing gas through the pipeline, without elaborating on the nature of the problems.

The most recent squabble involved a turbine that landed in Germany after being refurbished in Canada and that Russia refused to return, claiming it was subject to Western sanctions. However, Germany denies this.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck stated earlier this month that the pipeline was completely functioning and there were no technical concerns, as alleged by Russia.

Earlier this week, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to meddle in energy markets, saying they are “no longer fit for purpose” at a conference in Slovenia.

Prior to the crisis, Germany approved the €10 billion (£8.4 billion) Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs parallel to its namesake, but operations were paused after Russia launched soldiers into Ukraine in February.

According to the BBC, Russia has been burning off an estimated $10 million (£8.4 million) worth of gas per day at a plant near the Finnish border.

What is Nord Stream 1, and how much gas does it supply?

Nord Stream 1 is a 1,200km (745 miles) pipeline that runs beneath the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to north-eastern Germany.

It opened in 2011 and can transport up to 170 million cubic meters of gas per day from Russia to Germany. Nord Stream AG, whose primary shareholder is the Russian state-owned firm Gazprom, owns and operates the pipeline.

Germany had earlier approved the construction of a similar pipeline, Nord Stream 2, but the project was delayed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom shut down the Yamal gas pipeline, which runs through Belarus and Poland and distributes gas to Germany and other European countries, in May. In June, Gazprom reduced gas supply via Nord Stream 1 by 75%, from 170 million cubic meters per day to around 40 million cubic meters. Then, in July, it shut down Nord Stream 1 for ten days due to maintenance.

Shortly after restarting, Gazprom cut the amount provided in half to 20 million cubic meters due to “faulty equipment.”

It has now totally ceased all gas shipments to Europe via the pipeline, saying that repairs are required.

Read Also: Can the World Cope without Russian Gas? 

Germany’s Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, stated in August that there were no technical concerns and that the pipeline was completely functioning. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman argued that the disruptions were caused by Western sanctions that damaged Russian infrastructure.

Gazprom also announced a halt in gas supply to the French energy provider Engie.