Russia looks set to resume gas supplies through one of its main pipelines to Europe, bringing some relief to markets, although fears of winter supply disruptions remain, writes Elena Maznyova for Bloomberg.
Data from the gas transmission network showed that flows will resume on Saturday at 20% of total capacity, as planned. Every time Russia announces it will shut down the pipeline for repairs or maintenance, politicians, businesses and ordinary consumers worry that supplies will not resume.
Germany has already said it will not rely on Nord Stream 1 in the winter. Gazprom PJSC says the only operating turbine at the link’s entry point needs maintenance every 1,000 hours. This is roughly every 42 days, with the next checks due in mid-October.
More and more people in Europe expect that these flows will be used continuously during the colder months to keep markets buoyant and as a way to pressure the region due to sanctions against Russia.
Gazprom cut supplies through Nord Stream 1 in July, shortly after seasonal maintenance on the pipeline, citing technical problems. Flows were halted Wednesday for inspections of the only operating turbine that pumps gas into the pipeline. The facility normally operates six large turbines and two smaller ones, but this summer most of the equipment was decommissioned, with Gazprom citing international sanctions that halted maintenance and repairs.
The European Union is bracing for upheaval even though it managed to meet its gas storage target for the upcoming heating season two months ahead of schedule, easing the immediate threat.
Lower consumption combined with larger gas reserves and supplies from alternative sources could help offset risks to Russia for now. A possible prolonged shutdown of Nord Stream, however, could show how far Russia is willing to go, meaning more risks this winter, especially if it’s cold.
It is not yet clear when the Nord Stream 1 turbines, which are not operating, can be serviced. Repairs may need to be performed either locally or in Canada where they were manufactured. Gazprom claims that regular maintenance of the remaining turbine is carried out according to the technical requirements provided by the manufacturer Siemens. This means multiple gas outages if the situation with the remaining turbines does not change by October.