Russia Cuts Natural Gas Flow to Germany Yet Again

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, followed through on Wednesday with its announcement earlier this week that it would further restrict the flows of natural gas to Germany and other European countries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. It also blamed Siemens Energy, the German maker of turbines used on the pipeline, for causing the cutbacks, prompting a sharp retort from the company.News of the reduced flows of natural gas caused a jump in the already-high price for natural gas in Europe, to heights not seen since the days immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Prices later moderated, but remained about double what they were in mid-June, when Russia began a series of restrictions on flows through the pipeline.Data from Nord Stream showed that flows were reduced to about 20 percent of the pipeline’s capacity.Gazprom said maintenance issues concerning turbines supplied by Siemens Energy were to blame for diminished output. German officials dispute this claim, and European officials say Russia is cutting back its gas deliveries to punish Europe for its opposition to the war in Ukraine.On Wednesday, Siemens Energy hit back at Gazprom after an executive of the gas giant, Vitaly Markelov, repeated in an interview on Russian TV that faulty Siemens turbines were responsible for the cutbacks. The turbines build pressure in the pipeline to send gas long distances.In a statement, Siemens Energy said it did not have access to the machines and had not received any damage reports from Gazprom, and so assumed the turbines were “operating normally.”It added that “the actions of the Russian side are more than obviously politically motivated.”Analysts said Gazprom appeared to be trying to maintain at least a pretense that it was cutting flows to customers for legitimate operational reasons rather than on orders from the Kremlin. It may be acting with an eye toward future lawsuits for damage caused by the cutbacks. Uniper, a German utility that was recently forced into a government bailout because of losses that could amount to billions of euros, has said it expects Gazprom to pay compensation.To deal with this shortfall of gas, amid fears that Russia may ultimately cut all deliveries to Europe, the European Union on Tuesday called on member nations to cut their use of gas by 15 percent.In Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of Russian gas, there is a rush to build terminals on the North Sea coast to receive shipments of liquefied natural gas. L.N.G., which arrives by seagoing tanker from producers including the United States and Qatar, was once considered an expensive alternative to Russian gas delivered by pipeline. Now it is seen as the most readily available source of fuel to make up for the shortfalls.
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