Russia will halt gas supplies to Europe for three days at the end of the month via its main pipeline into the region, state energy giant Gazprom said on Friday, piling pressure on the region as it seeks to refuel ahead of winter.
The unscheduled maintenance order on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, deepens an energy standoff between Moscow and Brussels which has already helped send inflation surging in the region and raised the risk of rationing and recession.
Gazprom said the three-day shutdown was because the pipeline’s only remaining gas compressor requires maintenance, yet the move will bring further disruption particularly for Germany, which depends largely on deliveries from Moscow to power its industry.
Germany has already had to give Uniper, Germany’s largest importer of Russian gas and the highest-profile corporate victim of Europe’s energy crisis so far, a 15 billion euro ($15.1 billion) bailout last month after Russia drastically cut flows, forcing it to buy gas elsewhere at much higher prices.
The broader Germany economic impact was highlighted in producer price data on Friday which in July saw their highest ever increases both year-on-year and month-on-month as energy costs skyrocket.
The Nord Stream pipeline had already been running at just a fifth of its capacity, stoking fears that Russia could halt supplies completely heading into the winter heating season and make it more difficult to fill up storage facilities.
After maintenance is complete, and “in the absence of technical malfunctions,” flows of 33 million cubic meters (mcm) a day – in line with current volumes – will resume, Gazprom said.
This would still be just 20% of Nord Stream’s full capacity of 167 mcm per day.
Gazprom said maintenance works at the remaining Trent 60 gas compressor station would be carried out together with Siemens.
Siemens Energy, which is in charge of maintaining the Nord Stream 1 turbines, declined to comment.
($1 = 0.9958 euros) (Reporting by Reuters; Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Holmes)