Berlin expects Russian gas flows to resume after pipeline work
The German government expects Russian gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to resume after routine maintenance work is completed, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Deputy government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said gas flows would restart on Thursday as scheduled and in line with Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom’s contractual obligations.
Hoffmann declined to comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent warning that gas deliveries could fall to 33 million cubic metres per day if a repaired turbine is not quickly delivered.
Such a move would mean that the pipeline is operating at roughly one fifth of its total capacity.
Critics have repeatedly dismissed the Kremlin’s claims that the turbine’s delayed return was behind the need to further reduce Russian gas supplies to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
The spokesperson reiterated that the missing turbine was a pretext to reduce or halt gas flows, but the deployment of a replacement turbine was nonetheless under way.
The maintenance outage on the biggest single pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany reduced flows to zero. The repairs began on July 11 and were scheduled to end Thursday.
Government officials and businesses had expressed fears that deliveries would not resume due to a stand-off with Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
Germany is racing to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.
Just over a quarter of gas consumed by Germany was imported from Russia at the end of June, the German Economy Ministry said in a statement on energy security released on Wednesday.
The proportion of gas derived from Russia fell to 26% at the end of last month from around 55% before the invasion of Ukraine in February, the statement said.
The ministry said this was partly due to Gazprom’s decision to reduce gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 40% under the “pretext of technical issues.”
However, it was also due to diversification of supply, it added.
“As alternatives to Russian gas, natural gas purchases from Norway and the Netherlands have been increased, and LNG imports have been significantly increased,” the ministry said.
“Independence from Russian gas can be largely achieved in a joint effort by the summer of 2024,” it said.