BREAKING: Russia to slash Nord Stream flow again to 22% of capacity
Russia's Gazprom will reduce the daily output of the Portovaya compressor station that handles gas pumped into the Nord Stream to 33mn m3/day on the morning of July 27 – equivalent to only 22% of the pipeline's 55bn m3/year nameplate capacity.
The reduction, which will come into effect at 07:00 Moscow time on July 27, is due to the closure of another Siemens gas turbine at the Portovaya station, due to its technical condition, Gazprom said on its Telegram channel late on July 25. The pipeline's gas flow has already been restricted to 40% of capacity, because the return of another Siemens turbine sent to Canada for repair has been delayed, according to Gazprom.
The August contract at the Dutch TTF gas hub is up 9.5% from the average on the previous trading session, trading at €175 ($179)/MWh, according to ICE data.
Nord Stream has been running at 40% of capacity since last month, leading to a number of European buyers in Germany and elsewhere to complain of reduced Russian gas deliveries. The pipeline was shut down completely on July 11 for ten days of maintenance.
Gazprom has blamed the curtailment of supply on Siemens failing to return a turbine that had been shipped to Montreal, Canada, for maintenance and repair. Authorities in Canada provided a sanctions exemption to allow the unit to be sent back to Russia, but it is still stuck on route in Germany, according to Russian business daily Kommersant. Gazprom said on July 25 that while it had received documents needed for delivery to Russia, there are still outstanding issues that prevent the return.
Fears are growing in Europe that Russia could cut off gas supply completely in order to further destabilise energy markets, prompting the European Commission to propose on July 20 that all member states cut their gas consumption by 15% from August, to conserve volumes for winter. A number of member states have spoken out against the proposal, however, which would also give the commission emergency powers to impose mandatory cuts on countries if the risk of gas shortage is considered acute.
For its part, the Kremlin claims no intention of cutting gas supply to Europe entirely.
"Russia is not interested in this," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 25. "Russia is a responsible supplier, and no matter what anyone says – the European Commission, in European capitals and in the United States of America – Russia has been, is and remains a country that largely guarantees Europe's energy security. Not declaratively, but de facto guarantees."
However, Peskov also hit back against sanctions.
"On the other hand, if Europe continues on its path of the absolutely reckless imposition of restrictions and sanctions that hurts it, the situation will be different," he said. "I repeat once again: Russia is not interested [in cutting off supply to Europe]."
Despite technical constraints at Nord Stream, however, experts have noted that Russia could maintain gas supply volumes to Europe by rerouting them to other pipelines, including those that run through Ukraine, but has chosen not to.