Russia's Gazprom shuts off Nord Stream 1 gas supply for maintenance

Russia's Gazprom shuts off Nord Stream 1 gas supply for maintenance

The Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom cut gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 at short notice on Wednesday, throwing into uncertainty German attempts to fill gas reserves for the coming winter.

Nord Stream 1 gas flow to Europe back to zero

At around 3am on Wednesday morning, the flow of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was cut to virtually nothing. The energy company announced a little over two weeks ago that it would be carrying out essential maintenance works and that gas supply would be shut off until September 3. The shutdown is the latest in a series of stoppages that have fuelled energy uncertainty in Europe. 

Germany, which is heavily reliant on Russian gas for its supply, has previously accused the Kremlin of using energy as a political weapon. The head of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, told AFP that the maintenance work was “technically incomprehensible”, but Gazprom insisted that it was necessary and that the situation was being exacerbated by sanctions that are delaying the return and installation of equipment

A Kremlin spokesperson said that the stoppage was only temporary and that the gas flow would resume soon. Supply via Nordstream 1 has been slashed repeatedly in recent months - first down to 40 percent of capacity in June, and then to 20 percent in July. In July, the pipeline was shut off for 10 days for routine maintenance, but that work was advertised well in advance and was carried out by Nord Stream AG, rather than Gazprom. 

Gazprom reports record profits as Germany scrambles to stockpile gas

Despite western sanctions, Gazprom recently reported record profits for the first half of 2022 - 2,5 trillion rubles, the equivalent of around 46,5 billion euros. A total, permanent shutoff of gas supplies therefore seems unlikely, since the European energy market is a valuable source of income for Russia - which is currently earning more from gas exports despite reducing volumes - and a total shutdown would unhand the Kremlin of one of its major bargaining chips - the threat of a shutdown.

Germany and other countries across Europe are now scrambling to stockpile their gas reserves before winter. In Germany, the 85-percent target for October 1 is expected to be reached in the coming days, but storage companies are saying that the November 1 target of 95 percent might now prove trickier to meet unless companies and households reduce their consumption. The government recently unveiled plans to cut the country’s energy usage in the coming months



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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