Gazprom says key gas pipeline to Europe will shut down for ‘routine maintenance’

Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom said on Friday that a key pipeline conveying natural gas to Europe will shut down for three days at the end of this month to undergo “routine maintenance.”

In a statement posted online, Gazprom said that the only operational turbine at a key compressor station along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which links western Russia and Germany, will shut down for routine maintenance from August 31 to September 2.

“A set of routine maintenance in accordance with the current maintenance contract will be carried out jointly with Siemens specialists,” the company said, in a reference to its German partner, Siemens Energy.

Gazprom said that, once work is completed, the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 will resume at its prior level of 33 million cubic meters, or just 20 per cent of the pipeline’s nominal capacity.

Flows of natural gas through Nord Stream 1 have been contentious. The shutdown will come a month after Gazprom restored natural gas supply through the pipeline to only a fifth of its capacity after an earlier shut-off for maintenance.

WATCH | EU deal to reduce gas consumption: 

EU governments reach a deal on gas rationing

European Union countries have agreed to a proposal to voluntarily cut their gas consumption by 15 per cent this winter. This deal comes after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation, said it would further cut gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany.

Russia has blamed the reductions through the pipeline on technical problems, but Germany calls them a political move to sow uncertainty and push up prices amid the conflict in Ukraine.

The newly announced maintenance shut-off raises additional fears that Russia could completely cut off gas that is used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes to try to gain political leverage over Europe as it tries to boost its storage levels for winter.

Natural gas prices have surged as Russia has reduced or cut off natural gas flows to a dozen European Union countries, fuelling inflation and raising the risk that Europe could plunge into recession.

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