Turning off the tap: Gazprom halts Nord Stream 1 gas flows to Germany

Russian energy giant Gazprom halted the flow of natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday.

The company says the shutdown, which will last until Saturday, is necessary for maintenance reasons.

But Western nations have claimed Russia is weaponising gas supplies amid the Ukraine war.

According to Gazprom, Nord Stream 1’s only remaining turbine, located at the Portovaya compressor station in western Russia, needs servicing. 

The head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, Klaus Mueller, dismissed such maintenance work as technically incomprehensible, accusing Moscow of using energy to punish it for siding with Ukraine.  

Germany is heavily reliant on Russian gas, with Nord Stream 1 providing around one-third of the country’s supply. 

Today’s disruption comes at a time when Europe’s energy market is already under incredible strain and wholesale gas prices are soaring.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted on Tuesday that the country was well-prepared to face a possible energy shortage in the event of Russia squeezing gas supplies even further.

“We will be able to cope quite well with the threats that we face from Russia, which is using gas as part of its strategy in the war against Ukraine,” he said.

Gazprom has repeatedly reduced the flow of gas through the crucial pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, citing technical issues, such as repairs. 

Berlin says these cuts are a political move to create uncertainty and push up prices as the country scrambles to build up gas reserves ahead of winter. 

France has echoed Germany’s concerns about Nord Stream 1. 

On Tuesday, French Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher accused Russia of “using gas supplies as a weapon of war”, adding “we must prepare for the worst case scenario of a complete interruption of supplies.” 

Russia has also reduced the flow of gas to other European countries which have supported Ukraine after it was invaded by Russia in February. 

Gas supplies to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland have been cut off completely, while Russia has reduced flows via other pipelines

Last week, the German government said that the drop in gas flows confirmed that Russia cannot be relied upon to serve its energy needs. 

Berlin, already turning off the lights of public buildings in a bid to save energy, announced it would step up efforts to store gas and conserve supplies. 

Gazprom previously stopped gas supplies for 10 days in July, citing maintenance efforts for Nord Stream 1.

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