Gazprom said it would shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea, at the end of August, further disrupting gas flow to Europe as energy prices soar and the continent scrambles for supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly announced on Friday that it will shut down the only functioning compressor station on Nord Stream 1 in Portovaya near St. Petersburg from August 31 to September 2.
Gazprom said it will then resume shipping up to 33 million cubic meters of gas a day to Europe, about 20 percent of NS1’s capacity, or about the same amount it has shipped to Germany via the pipeline in recent weeks.
The gas monopoly, which is supported by the Russian state, reduced capacity on the line for the first time in June. Gas prices in Europe have since more than doubled, rising more than 6 percent on Friday to €256 per megawatt-hour, the highest closing price on record.
Gazprom can send up to 167 million cubic meters through the pipeline every day, but has throttled deliveries in recent months in the dispute over sanctions. The company has claimed it is unable to supply gas on a regular basis due to delays in repairing and returning turbines manufactured by Germany’s Siemens Energy.
European leaders and energy companies said there was no technical problem preventing Gazprom from supplying more gas and claimed Russia was deliberately curtailing supplies for political reasons.
In a statement, Gazprom said the repairs were commissioned under its contract with Siemens Energy and the German company’s specialists would take part in the repairs.
Siemens Energy declined to comment.
“This is a vivid example of Putin’s hybrid energy warfare against the EU,” said Sergiy Makogon, executive director of Ukraine’s state-owned gas transportation network. “Ukraine and Poland have unused transit capacity that could be used to fully offset flows via Nord Stream 1,” he continued.
Yuriy Vitrenko, CEO of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz, said there was “no sign Gazprom would compensate” by pumping more gas through Ukraine’s huge gas transport pipeline, which was once a key route for supplies to European markets.
“The aim could be to put pressure on Germany to relax and even allow sanctions [Nord Stream 2]” added Vitrenko.
“The prospect of Gazprom shutting down Nord Stream 1 for three days will only spook the market,” said ICIS analyst Tom Marzec-Manser. “Gas prices rose at the very end of the trading day when the maintenance was announced and could rise slightly further on Monday as buyers assess whether they genuinely believe the pipe will be put back into service as stated by the Russian supplier.”
Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv, Martin Arnold in Frankfurt and David Sheppard in London