Use the gas weapon to survive the battle of nerves. On July 21, five days after the partial opening, the Nord Stream pipeline was cut. Ten days for maintenance, Moscow will again almost close it. Russian gas company Gazprom announced on Monday that from Wednesday, July 27, only 33 million cubic meters of gas will flow through the pipeline connecting Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. This block is only 20% of Nord Stream’s capacity.
This result is only semi-surprising. On Wednesday, July 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that if Russia does not retrieve a turbine sent to Canada for repairs, it will not be delivered because of sanctions aimed at it after the war in Ukraine. The pipeline is running at only one-fifth of its capacity. Already in mid-June, Moscow gave the same reason to justify the first tightening of the screws: from that date, the Nord Stream was already not transported to Germany, except for a total cut-off of ten days connected with its maintenance. More than 40% of the gas was previously transmitted through its pipelines.
Berlin’s reaction was swift. “As per our information, there is no technical reason to reduce deliveries”, the German Economy Ministry announced Gazprom’s decision within an hour. The Siemens Energy Group, which is in charge of the turbine’s maintenance, also promised not to look. “No connection between turbine and gas reductions has been implemented or reported”. The news immediately pushed up the price of natural gas per megawatt hour. On Monday afternoon, it went between 168 and 179 euros on the Dutch TTF market, which serves as a benchmark in Europe. In July 2021, its price will be 40 euros, almost five times less than today.
If this is just an excuse used by Moscow to justify reducing the amount of gas transported through Nord Stream, “Turbine Saga”as the weekly dubbed it of SpiegelJudging by the uncertain climate it maintains in European countries that depend heavily on Russian gas, it has performed less robustly.
This is particularly the case in Germany. Gazprom’s decision is causing serious concern across the Rhine, even though gas imported from Russia has represented only 26% of all its gas supplies since June, compared to 55% before the war in Ukraine that began on February 24. Already a few days ago, the Federal Network Agency warned of the goals set by the new law on gas storage, which should fill the country’s reserves by 1 to 75%.There is 90% on September and 1There is If Nord Stream is only operating at 40% of its capacity in November, that will be difficult to achieve. That was before Gazprom announced on Monday that deliveries would be halved further.
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