Gazprom, Russia's state energy giant, has significantly reduced the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1, now at 20 percent of capacity. The Russians say they are in need of a gas turbine for the pipeline -- the EU’s single largest piece of gas infrastructure --that has been undergoing maintenance work in Canada by Siemens Energy. Yet Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany rejected the notion that technical problems were behind the sharp curtailment.
He said the only reason the machine had not yet been returned to Russia after undergoing maintenance work was that Gazprom did not want it back.
Gazprom and Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, have blamed Siemens Energy for delays in returning it to Russia. They have repeatedly cited the need for “required documents and clarifications,” and said the turbine’s absence was the reason it had slashed gas flows to 20 percent of capacity.
Germany maintains that this is a spurious argument: “It is obvious that nothing, nothing at all, stands in the way of the further transport of this turbine and its installation in Russia. It can be transported and used at any time,” Mr. Scholz told reporters. “There is no technical reason whatsoever for the reduction of gas supplies.”
Christian Bruch, Siemens Energy CEO, noted that turbine was due to be exchanged in September anyway, “so there is nothing in terms of delay yet. And there [are] obviously other turbines also expected to be overhauled but we still have no major announcement of any breakdown from operations. And this is why I cannot reconcile a technical reason to the supply of gas.”
“This turbine is ready to go immediately,” Chancellor Scholz added. “If Russia does not take up this turbine now, it shows the whole world that not taking it is just an excuse to reduce gas supplies to Germany," [and the rest of Europe].