Russian Gazprom closes gas pipeline to Europe for 3 days

MOSCOW — A major pipeline transporting Russian natural gas to Europe will be shut down for three days at the end of this month to undergo “routine maintenance,” Russian state energy company Gazprom said Friday.

In a statement posted online, Gazprom said the only operational turbine at a major compressor station along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which connects western Russia and Germany, will be shut down for maintenance from August 31 to September 2.

“A series of routine maintenance in accordance with the current maintenance contract will be carried out together with Siemens specialists,” the company said in a reference to its German partner, Siemens Energy.

Gazprom said that once the work is completed, gas flow through Nord Stream 1 will resume at its previous level of 33 million cubic meters, or just 20% of the pipeline’s capacity.

Natural gas prices have risen as Russia cut or cut off natural gas flows to a dozen European Union countries, fueling inflation and increasing the risk of Europe slipping into recession.

Germany’s economy ministry said in an email to The Associated Press that it was aware of Gazprom’s planned downtime for Nord Stream 1.

“We are monitoring the situation in close cooperation with the Federal Network Agency” which regulates the gas markets,” the ministry said. “Gas flows through Nord Stream 1 are currently unchanged at 20%.”

The natural gas flows through Nord Stream 1 have been controversial. The latest shutdown comes a month after Gazprom restored natural gas supply through the pipeline to just one-fifth of its capacity after an earlier shutdown for maintenance.

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Russia has attributed the pipeline reductions to technical problems, but Germany calls them a Kremlin political move to sow uncertainty and drive prices up amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The newly announced maintenance shutdown is raising fears that Russia could completely shut down gas used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes in Europe in an attempt to gain political influence over Europe as it tries to hold its own. increase storage levels for the winter.

Germany recently announced that its gas storage facilities had reached 75% capacity, two weeks ahead of the September 1 target. Germans have been urged to reduce gas consumption now so that the country has enough for the coming winter.


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