Moscow halts gas supplies to EU via Nord Stream (but tripled its revenue in August)

Moscow halts gas supplies to EU via Nord Stream (but tripled its revenue in August)

Russian giant Gazprom has suspended gas supplies to the EU via Nord Stream for three days due to the start of maintenance work on the only remaining gas compression facility at the Portovaya station. This was reported by the Russian press agency Tass, citing German operators of the Opal and Nel gas pipelines. The gas supply from Nord Stream at the receiving point in Greifswald, Germany, was completely interrupted on Wednesday morning, August 31, from 4 a.m. Moscow time. The pipeline stretches 1,200 km under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to northeast Germany. It was opened in 2011 and can transport a maximum of 170 million cubic meters of gas from Russia to Germany every day.

It was closed for 10 days in July – again for repairs, according to reasons given by Russia – and was recently running at just 20% capacity, which Moscow calls faulty equipment. European leaders fear Russia could extend the outage to raise gas prices, which have already risen by 400%. On Tuesday, after cutting off supplies to the Engie company, French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher accused Russia of using gas as a weapon of war. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman dismissed the allegations, insisting Western sanctions were causing the disruptions by damaging Russia’s infrastructure, noting that the technological problems caused by Western sanctions were the only thing Russia could do about it prevent gas from being delivered through the pipeline.

The latest controversy concerns a turbine that came to Germany after being repaired in Canada, and which Russia refused to take back because it was subject to Western sanctions. This latter fact was disputed by Germany. Earlier this month, German Energy Minister Robert Habeck said the pipeline was fully operational and said there were no technical problems as claimed by Russia.

Earlier this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to intervene in energy markets, telling a conference in Slovenia that they were no longer fit for purpose. We need a new market model for electricity that really works and gets us back into balance, he said. Last week, the BBC revealed that Russia was burning an estimated $10 million (£8.4 million) worth of gas every day at a plant near the Finnish border.

In August, ISPI calculated using Snam data, Russian gas flows to the EU fell by 72%, from 160 to 45 billion cubic meters per year. But thanks to skyrocketing prices, sales revenue for Moscow has tripled compared to the previous year.