The largest single pipeline carrying Russian gas into Germany and Europe began annual maintenance this week, with flows of gas expected to stop for 10 days. But there are fears that the shutdown could last longer due to the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline transports 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Russia to Germany. The maintenance shutdown is scheduled for July 11 to July 21.
But Russia has been toying with shutting off all gas to Europe.
Last month, Russia cut flows of gas to 40 percent of the total capacity of the pipeline. Russia blamed the decrease on a delayed return of equipment being serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada. Over the weekend, Canada said that it would return a repaired turbine, but also that it would be expanding its sanctions against Russia’s energy sector.
Fears are increasing that Russia will extend the scheduled maintenance shutdown in order to restrict gas supply even further in Europe.
This comes as European countries are scrambling to fill storage facilities for winter. It is heightening the gas crisis in Europe. The ongoing gas and energy security crisis has prompted emergency measures from governments and has resulted in painfully high bills for consumers across Europe.
Governments warn that countries need to come to terms with the possibility Russia will suspend gas flows through its pipelines beyond the maintenance periods.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that based on the pattern that has been seen, it would not be surprising if some “small, technical detail” is found and that Russia then says it will continue to shut down the pipeline.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed claims that Russia is using oil and gas in order to put political pressure on Europe. He said that the maintenance shutdowns are a regular, scheduled event and that no one is “inventing” repairs.
There are other big pimples between Russia and Europe. However, flows of gas and oil have been declining gradually.
Russia has already cut off supplies to several countries in Europe, saying they did not comply with its demand for payments to be made in doubles.