Whither Nord Stream 1? Russian Gas Deliveries In The Fog Of War

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Whither Nord Stream 1? Russian Gas Deliveries In The Fog Of War

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 08:29
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Pipeline valve with the flags of Germany and Russia (© Shutterstock/DesignRage)
Pipeline valve with the flags of Germany and Russia (© Shutterstock/DesignRage)

From 11 - 21 July this year the Nord Stream 1 will undergo its annual inspection.  For this work, Gazprom, Nord Stream's operator, will stop transmitting gas through the line.  In past years these inspections went off without a hitch.  Not so in 2022.

The German government, companies and business associations look to 11 July with trepidation, as they fear once the inspection is over Gazprom will pull back completely and not restart Nord Stream 1.  Gazprom has refused to comment on its future plans for the pipeline.

It must also be noted that an optimal operation of the parallel Nord Stream 1 pipelines requires an annual inspection.  Such inspections traditionally occur during the month of July, as less gas is consumed in the summer than in the winter.  This summer, due to the ongoing Russian war of aggression in the Ukraine, the quantities of gas shipped through Nord Stream 1 have already been reduced by 60 percent.

Timm Kehler, Board Member of "Zukunft Gas," said it is possible that the reduced quantities of gas will be replaced by other pipelines.  But it is just as likely that these missing quantities of gas will not be reinstated.  This would have consequences for the winter:  "Every missing cubic meter of gas contributes to the present - day strained situation in the German gas market and ultimately to a delay in filling the gas storage facilities.

Shouldn't Russia be concerned with losing the confidence of its European customers by breaching contract stipulations?  It seems not so much, as the Kremlin is already reorienting itself toward other big markets in India and China. While Gazprom is earning less for these sales than it would have in Europe, it has already pocketed $24 billion from selling energy to China and India in just three months following its invasion of Ukraine, showing how higher global prices are limiting efforts by the US and Europe to punish President Vladimir Putin.

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