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Russia scraps gas pipeline reopening, stoking European fuel fears

Stock Markets Sep 02, 2022 08:35PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/
 
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By Christoph Steitz and Caleb Davis

FRANKFURT/GDANSK (Reuters) - Russia has scrapped a Saturday deadline to resume flows via a major gas supply route to Germany, deepening Europe's difficulties in securing winter fuel, after saying it had found faults in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline during maintenance.

Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea, had been due to resume operating at 0100 GMT on Saturday after a three-day halt for maintenance.

But Gazprom (MCX:GAZP), the state-controlled firm with a monopoly on Russian gas exports via pipeline, said on Friday it could not safely restart deliveries until it had fixed an oil leak found in a vital turbine. It did not give a new time frame.

However, Siemens Energy, which normally services Nord Stream 1 turbines, said such a leak should not stop the pipeline from operating. It also said the Portovaya compressor station, where the leak was discovered, has other turbines for Nord Stream to keep operating.

"Such leaks do not normally affect the operation of a turbine and can be sealed on site. It is a routine procedure within the scope of maintenance work," the company said.

Moscow has blamed sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia invaded Ukraine, for hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels says this is a pretext and Russia is using gas as an economic weapon to retaliate.

"This is part of Russia's psychological war against us," tweeted Michael Roth, chair of the German parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

Siemens Energy said it is not currently contracted to carry out maintenance work on the line, but is on standby.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said earlier the EU should impose a price cap on Russian pipeline gas to foil what she said were President Vladimir Putin's attempts to manipulate the market.

Russia has denied previous allegations of using gas as an economic weapon or manipulating the gas market.

The United States and Europe were collaborating to ensure enough energy supplies were available, a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said on Friday.

"It is unfortunately not surprising that Russia continues to use energy as a weapon against European consumers," the spokesperson added.

Wholesale gas prices have rocketed 400% since August 2021, hurting European industry and households as demand recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and because of the Ukraine crisis.

"We see that the electricity market does not work anymore because it is massively disrupted due to Putin's manipulations," Von der Leyen said, adding that a gas price cap on Russian pipeline supplies could be proposed at the European level.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would turn off supplies to Europe if Brussels imposed such a cap.

"There will simply be no Russian gas in Europe," he wrote on the Telegram app in response to Von der Leyen.

Reduced deliveries via Nord Stream, alongside lower gas flows via Ukraine, another major route, have already left European states struggling to refill storage tanks for winter and prompted many to trigger emergency plans that could lead to energy rationing and stoking concerns about recession.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer wrote on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) that Gazprom had acted under "fallacious pretences" to shut down Nord Stream 1. "It's also proof of Russia's cynicism, as it prefers to flare gas instead of honouring contracts."

Group of Seven finance ministers agreed on Friday to put a price cap on Russian oil exports. Moscow said it would halt oil sales to countries imposing the cap, adding that the move would destabilize oil markets. Russia is the world's biggest exporter of crude and fuel combined.

'BETTER PREPARED'

Germany's network regulator said the country was more ready to cope with a disruption to Russian supplies, but households and companies had to cut energy consumption.

"It's good that Germany is now better prepared, but now it's down to each and everyone," Klaus Mueller, president of the Bundesnetzagentur, said on Twitter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested earlier on Friday there could be more disruptions to deliveries via Nord Stream 1.

"It's not the fault of Gazprom that the resources are missing. Therefore, the reliability of the entire system is at risk," he said when asked if more outages could be expected.

Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said on Wednesday that sanctions meant Siemens could not carry out regular maintenance.

EU governments have been preparing for the possibility that Russia stops deliveries completely, after Gazprom first reduced flows in June and then again in July.

This week's maintenance was announced at short notice.

Germany, which is particularly reliant on Russian supplies, has been racing to fill its storage tanks before winter. That storage is now nearly 85% full, but Berlin says reaching a 95% target by Nov. 1 will be tough unless companies and households use less fuel.

The EU has exceeded its 80% target for storage to be full by Oct. 1, ready for when heating usage picks up, but that may not sustain Europe through the winter if Russia keeps the taps closed.

Some energy-intensive European companies, such as fertiliser and aluminium producers, have already cut output due to sky-high power prices, while some domestic consumers have reined in usage to save on escalating energy bills.

Russia scraps gas pipeline reopening, stoking European fuel fears
 

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Comments (10)
Peter Andersen
Peter Andersen Sep 03, 2022 9:47AM ET
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Noncense so many fault Ukraine will win Just heard that ukraine will deliver electric via nuclear plant together Europe gets stronger every day
Low Pez
Low Pez Sep 03, 2022 9:47AM ET
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get off the crack
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 8:41AM ET
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It's alright we just need to ***down and eliminate Russian energy at all costs. Start burning would and let russias economy crumble. They are third world without these massive energy profits.
Peter Andersen
Peter Andersen Sep 03, 2022 8:41AM ET
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They will be the third world no doubt we will find a Solution green technology we are working very hard now thanks to the little fat russian but biden must stay we don’t need a Republikaner
Peter Andersen
Peter Andersen Sep 03, 2022 8:41AM ET
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Jason ✌🏻✌🏻✌🏻
David Beckham
David Beckham Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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It’s funny to see what westerns said they want to pay low price to Russia for gas and oil do they really think they are the king in the world. Yeah it’s best time for them use green energy now stop just talk don’t use coal oil natural gas
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jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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Do you even understand that England insurers 90% of the world's shipping?
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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They will not insure any ship carrying Russian energy over the price cap.
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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It will destroy Russia and hopefully lead to a bigger conflict so we can finally wipe puketins regime off the face of the earth.
JIM VETTER
JIM VETTER Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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Russia doesn't care, China and India are happy to accept Russian oil. It'll be a non- issue
nick cage
nick cage Sep 03, 2022 1:02AM ET
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They already have alternative insurance. happens about a month ago in China.
zinmin thu
zinmin thu Sep 03, 2022 1:01AM ET
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why
zinmin thu
zinmin thu Sep 03, 2022 1:01AM ET
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why
Honey Badger
Honey Badger Sep 03, 2022 12:49AM ET
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You are using every available tool against them. What you expecting from them?
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 12:49AM ET
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You have not even seen the tool box open yet.
Sam Dur
Sam Dur Sep 03, 2022 12:06AM ET
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Europe has a nerve to expect from Russia to keep the gas supply up after trying to humiliate Russia by sanctions and isolation. You reap what you sow. Normalize your relationship with Russia immediately or get ready to freeze.
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 12:06AM ET
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Yes russia is the innocent victim here lmao 🤣. Fk out of the country traitor dirt bag
jason xx
jason xx Sep 03, 2022 12:06AM ET
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Yes Russia is definitely the innocent victim here lmao. Get the FK out of this country you traitor s c u m
BD
BD Sep 02, 2022 5:11PM ET
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Well, that's what happens when you sleep with the enemy. That's why the US is trying to decouple from China. I'm sure these "technical issues" with "gas leaks" only surfaced after the G7 agreed to cap Russian oil prices. You just wait until Russia shuts down all petroleum to Europe in full retaliation. It's an economic war to see if the West's economies fall first or Russia pulls out of Ukraine first.
jason xx
jason xx Sep 02, 2022 5:11PM ET
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You really think the Russian economy has any chance of surviving an all out economic war with 30 of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet? What do you think Russia is going to do with all the oil China and India don't buy at a massive discount?
jason xx
jason xx Sep 02, 2022 5:11PM ET
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Russia made itself an enemy and deserves what's coming
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo Sep 02, 2022 4:17PM ET
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russian cun t s
Victor Cao
Victor Cao Sep 02, 2022 3:09PM ET
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It is ridiculous when you treat me like enemy and still need my supplies
Dustin Yunees
Dustin Yunees Sep 02, 2022 3:09PM ET
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You must be from mainland China which is hostile to Taiwan and imports a lot of Taiwanese semiconductors, but it's a common situation.
jason xx
jason xx Sep 02, 2022 3:09PM ET
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Another one acting like Russia is the innocent victim here lmao.
 
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