Kremlin says gas flows depend on Nord Stream turbine turnover

Nord Stream 1 Source: Nord Stream

Flows of Russian natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream link will depend on how quickly the pipeline equipment is repaired and returned to Gazprom PJSC, a Kremlin spokesman said, as governments and businesses watch for any signals on the future of supplies.

Nord Stream, a key gas route between Russia and the European Union, has been operating at roughly 40 per cent of its capacity, with Gazprom blaming the West for the capped flows. Only two out of six turbines at the Russian end of the pipeline are operating as western sanctions have limited maintenance options for the equipment, according to the Russian gas producer.

European natural gas prices are trading at a seasonal record amid the supply uncertainty. They could climb higher if Gazprom decides to cap or cut off its exports. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on all EU member states to participate in the effort to save gas, regardless of how dependent they are on Russia for the fuel. 

One additional turbine that could help support Nord Stream flows is still in Germany amid paperwork delays, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Sunday. If Gazprom provides the required documents to German manufacturer Siemens Energy AG, the turbine shipment may happen in the next few days, it said. 

The equipment, which helps pump gas into the pipeline, was first stranded in Canada because of sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Technological Issues

“The turbine will be installed after all the technological formalities have been completed and the flows will be at the levels that are technologically possible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. However, “we have issues with other equipment, of which Siemens is well aware,” he said, signaling the Nord Stream saga is only beginning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that another Nord Stream turbine is due to go for maintenance on or around July 26, which could reduce flows via the gas link to around 20 per cent of the nameplate capacity, unless the already repaired equipment comes back online to replace it. Siemens and Gazprom weren’t immediately able to comment on the progress of their paperwork exchange.

Despite the turbine spat, Russia is “not interested” in a complete cutoff of its gas deliveries to Europe, Peskov told reporters. However, “if Europe continues its course of absolutely recklessly imposing sanctions and restrictions that are hitting it, the situation may change,” he said.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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