Russia has closed the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, a “weapon of war” for Paris

Russia has closed the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, a "weapon of war" for Paris


by Christoph Steitz and Nina Chestney

FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) – Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday, further escalating the economic fight between Moscow and Brussels and fueling fears of energy rationing and recession in several developing countries. the European Union. .

The pipeline is officially halted for three days, until Saturday 01:00 GMT, to allow maintenance work, but EU countries fear that Moscow will use the opportunity to extend the halt on gas deliveries, in retaliation for Western sanctions linked to the invasion of Ukraine. .

Several capitals, including Paris, accuse Vladimir Putin’s regime of using gas as a “weapon of war”, which Russia refutes on purely technical grounds.

According to data published on the site of the operator of the gas pipeline, which supplies Europe with Russian natural gas that passes under the Baltic Sea, the flows at the level of Nord Stream 1 are null from 01:00 GMT.

In Germany, one of the countries most dependent on Russian gas, the president of the regulatory authority of the national gas network assured that the country was better prepared for this type of cuts because its storage capacities are almost 85% full and that It has other sources of supply, liquefied natural gas (LNG) among others.

“We can use the gas from the storages during the winter, we save gas (and we have to continue!), the LNG terminals are coming and thanks to Belgium, Holland, Norway (and soon France), the gas is coming in, ”, wrote Klaus Müller on Twitter.

Other than the new restrictions on the appropriation in the face of Europe’s risquent d’accroître the tensions on the energy market, which are left in translations for a 400% envelope in an an des prix de gros à terme du natural gas. A situation that fuels inflationary tensions and forces governments to multiply measures to support purchasing power and calls for sobriety.

Unlike last month’s servicing operations, those started on Wednesday on Nord Stream 1 were announced less than two weeks ago and are being carried out by Gazprom, Russia’s public natural gas giant, and not the pipeline operator.


Russian authorities, who had already reduced deliveries via Nord Stream 1 to 40% of capacity in June and 20% in July, question Western sanctions, which they say prevent the delivery and installation of necessary equipment in the ‘construction site’.

According to Gazprom, the new maintenance shutdown should allow the replacement of the last compressor in service at the Portovaya station in Russia, an operation that requires the intervention of specialists from the German industrial group Siemens.

Siemens Energy, a subsidiary of the latter that has carried out maintenance work on Nord Stream compressors and turbines in the past, said on Wednesday it was not concerned about the work announced for this week, but said it was ready to help Gazprom.

Russia has also halted all gas deliveries to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland and reduced the flow of other pipelines since the late February launch of what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

He announced on Tuesday the total cessation of deliveries to France’s Engie from Thursday, citing a disagreement over the application of the contracts, a “pretext” according to the Minister for the Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, for whom “Russia uses gas as a weapon of war”.

“France has been preparing for this scenario since the spring: the filling of gas reserves will peak in about two weeks,” he said, adding that Russian gas only accounted for 9% of French supplies, compared to 17% before the war. .

On the German side, gas stocks are 83.65% full, a figure close to the 85% target set by Berlin for October 1, but the Government has already warned that it will be difficult to reach the 95% threshold scheduled for November.

Across the European Union, storage capacities are 80.17% full, according to the Brussels count.

(Reporting Nina Chestney and Christoph Steitz, with Matthias Inverardi, Bharat Govind Gautam and Eileen Soreng; French version Jean Terzian and Marc Angrand)

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