Germany blames Gazprom for stalling on turbine's return to Russia
Russia's Gazprom is stalling the return of a Siemens turbine needed for the compressor station of the Nord Stream pipeline, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said in comments on August 3.
Gazprom has reduced gas flow via the pipeline to only 20% of its capacity, plunging the German energy market into a crisis. While Gazprom has attributed the cut to the delayed return of a Siemens turbine sent off to Canada for repair, experts note it could have increased gas deliveries to Europe via other routes, and European leaders have criticised the move as politically motivated. After Canadian authorities provided a sanctions exemption for the turbine, the unit was transported to the German port of Muelheim der Ruhr, where it remains.
"The turbine is there, it can be delivered, someone just has to say I want it, and it will be there very quickly," Scholz said during a visit on August 3 to where the unit was being held, implying Gazprom was to blame. "None of the technical reasons put forward [for reduced gas flow via Nord Stream] are comprehensible on a factual basis."
His words were confirmed by Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch, who told reporters that the company was "extremely interested in returning the turbine ... to Russia."
"From our point of view, all documents, customs documents ... are ready, but we need the participation of the client, which is Gazprom. This is not yet available. Therefore, we cannot supply this turbine, which has been here for more than a week," he said.
Russian gas flow to Europe slumped to an all-time low of 3.6bn m3 in July, down 23% from June, and there is limited potential to ramp up LNG imports any further, meaning any further reductions will result in demand destruction and make it harder for the EU to reach its goal of filling storage facilities to 80% of capacity by the end of October, in preparation for winter.
Meanwhile, EU energy ministers last week agreed to support the European Commission's proposal to voluntarily cut gas consumption across the bloc by 15% starting this month, but Brussels will need member states' support to make measures mandatory, and a number of countries will be able to apply for exemptions.