Germany again rejects Russian explanation for gas supply cut
The German government said Monday that a turbine at the centre of uncertainty about future gas deliveries through a major pipeline from Russia to Europe was only supposed to be installed in September, underlining its insistence that there should be no technical obstacle to the gas flow.
Meanwhile, Germany’s biggest importer of Russian gas said it had received a letter from Russia’s Gazprom claiming “force majeure” – events beyond its control – as the reason for past and current shortfalls in gas deliveries, a claim that the customer rejected.
Gazprom reduced gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany by 60 per cent last month. The state-owned gas company cited alleged technical problems involving equipment that partner Siemens Energy sent to Canada for overhaul and couldn’t be returned because of sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Canadian government said over a week ago that it would allow the gas turbine that powers a compressor station to be delivered to Germany, citing the “very significant hardship” that the German economy would suffer without a sufficient gas supply to keep industries running and to generate heat and electricity.
German politicians have dismissed Russia’s technical explanation for last month’s reduction in gas flowing through Nord Stream 1, saying the decision was a political gambit by the Kremlin to sow uncertainty and further push up energy prices.
“We don’t see technical reasons,” Economy Ministry spokeswoman Beate Baron told reporters in Berlin. “Our information is that this turbine is a replacement turbine that was earmarked for use in September but, again, we are doing everything to take away possible pretexts for the Russian side.”
Nord Stream 1 shut down altogether for annual maintenance on July 11. German officials are concerned that Russia may not resume gas deliveries at all after the scheduled end of that work on Thursday, and could cite an alleged technical reason not to do so.
Baron wouldn’t say where the turbine is at present, citing security reasons, but said no European Union permit is needed for its transport because it doesn’t fall under EU sanctions.
Gazprom has raised the turbine issue twice over recent days, saying on Saturday that it had “formally approached” Siemens Energy to provide documents needed to transport the equipment back to Russia.
In Germany, energy company Uniper said it had “received a letter from Gazprom Export in which the company claims force majeure retroactively for past and current shortfalls in gas deliveries.
“We consider this as unjustified and have formally rejected the force majeure claim,” Uniper said in an emailed response to a query. It wasn’t immediately clear what the move would mean for future gas deliveries.
On July 8, Uniper – Germany’s biggest importer of Russian gas – asked the German government for a bailout to cope with surging gas prices.
While talks on that continue, Uniper said in a separate statement Monday that it was now fully using an existing €2 billion credit facility from Germany’s state-owned KfW development bank and applied to increase that facility.