Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom has said that a key pipeline carrying natural gas to Europe will shut down for three days at the end of this month to undergo “routine maintenance”.
In a statement posted online, Gazprom said that the only operational turbine at a key compressor station along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which links Western Russia and Germany, will shut down for routine maintenance from August 31 to September 2.
“A set of routine maintenance in accordance with the current maintenance contract will be carried out jointly with Siemens specialists,” the company said, in a reference to its German partner, Siemens Energy.
Gazprom said that once work is completed, the flow of gas through Nord Stream 1 will resume at its prior level of 33 million cubic metres, or just 20% of the pipeline’s nominal capacity.
Flows of natural gas through Nord Stream 1 have been contentious. The shutdown will come a month after Gazprom restored natural gas supply through the pipeline to only a fifth of its capacity after a previous shut-off for maintenance.
Russia has blamed the reductions through the pipeline on technical problems, but Germany calls them a political move to sow uncertainty and push up prices amid the conflict in Ukraine.
The newly announced maintenance shut-off raises additional fears that Russia could completely cut off gas that is used to power industry, generate electricity and heat homes to try to gain political leverage over Europe as it tries to boost its storage levels for winter.
Natural gas prices have surged as Russia has reduced or cut off natural gas flows to a dozen European Union countries, fuelling inflation and raising the risk that Europe could plunge into recession.