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Gazprom to shut off Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline for three days

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced Friday it would stop supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline between August 31 and September 2.

Moscow, 19 August 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Russian energy giant Gazprom announced Friday it would stop supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline between August 31 and September 2.

The company said that the move was down to routine maintenance.

Due to previous alleged necessary repairs, Gazprom had already drastically reduced gas deliveries to Germany because of an absent turbine.

German officials have repeatedly maintained that the move was an attempt by Russia to punish Germany for its stance on the war in Ukraine and for imposing sanctions on Russia.

After the latest maintenance work, some 33 million cubic metres of natural gas should be delivered daily. This corresponds to 20% of the daily maximum output.

During the three days, the only functioning turbine at the Portovaya compressor station is to be checked and overhauled, Gazprom said. This is to be done in cooperation with specialists from Germany’s Siemens Energy.

With the West and Moscow at loggerheads over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Berlin has been rushing to wean itself off Russian gas. Across the country, gas storage levels are at 78%, according to data from European gas storage operators.

Germany’s dependence on Russian gas has prompted serious concerns about energy shortages during the cold winter months, when millions of households rely on gas for heating.

However, a senior member of the Free Democrats (FDP), a junior coalition partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, suggested that the stalled Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia could be the answer to a looming winter energy emergency.

“We should hasten to open Nord Stream 2 in order to fill up our gas tanks for the winter,” FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland media group. There was “no sensible reason” not to do so, he added.

His remarks, however, drew widespread criticism on Friday, including from his own FDP.

Party parliamentary leader Christian Dürr told dpa that “we are conducting intense discussions on how to avoid a looming energy crisis this winter. As a party, we have made a number of proposals on this matter. Opening Nord Stream 2 is not one of them.”

He also said that opening the pipeline, which had been due for certification days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, would send “the wrong signal to our European partners.”

Instead, Dürr called for Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants to continue operating for the time being, in order to ease the strain on the energy market. The reactors are due to shut down at the end of the year, as part of Germany’s exit from nuclear energy.

The leader of the Greens, Omid Nouripour, told dpa that Kubicki’s proposal would be ineffective, as Russia was already cutting down the volume of gas delivered via the operational Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

“It is completely irrelevant how many empty pipelines you open,” he said.

A spokesperson for Scholz’s Social Democrats, Nils Schmid, accused Kubicki of “adopting Russian propaganda.” The problem was not a lack of pipelines, but a refusal by Putin to deliver more gas, he noted.

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