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Russian official warns of total halt to Nord Stream operations: report

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Russian official warns of total halt to Nord Stream operations: report


European gas prices surge again after latest comments

Nord Stream flows currently capped at 67 million cu m/d

Peskov says cuts not 'intentional' on Russian side

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas

Any more problems with the maintenance of key gas turbines at the Portovaya gas compressor station in Russia could see the total suspension of gas flows in the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, a senior Russian official warned June 16.

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Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian permanent representative to the EU, told the RIA Novosti news agency that a halt to Nord Stream supplies would be a "disaster" for Germany.

"As for Nord Stream, you need to ask Siemens why the turbine needs to be sent to Canada for repairs. If all these turbines go to Canada for repairs, [the project] may stop," he said.

European gas prices surged further June 16, with the TTF month-ahead price reaching almost Eur150/MWh at 1100 GMT.

The TTF front-month contract was last assessed on June 15 at Eur114/MWh, down from record highs reached in March, but still 300% higher year on year, according to Platts assessments by S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Prices rose June 15 after Russia's Gazprom said flows of gas through the Portovaya compressor station -- the start point for the key Nord Stream pipeline to Germany -- would be limited to a maximum of 67 million cu m/d from June 16.

Gazprom said it had halted operations at one of three operational compressor units at Portovaya due to maintenance issues.

Germany's economy minister Robert Habeck June 15 cast doubt over the explanation given by Gazprom for the new reduction in Nord Stream flows.

"The reports clearly show that the justification given by the Russian side is simply a pretext," Habeck said in a statement. "It is obviously a strategy to unsettle and drive up prices."

Kremlin denial

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issues with the Portovaya compressor were not "intentional" on the side of Russia.

"We know that there is a problem with turbines, a problem with overhaul, some turbines are not being returned," Peskov was quoted as saying by the Prime news agency.

"These are the consequences of sanctions, there is nothing intentional," he said.

Gazprom had already said June 14 that flows of gas into Nord Stream would be limited to a maximum of 100 million cu m/d due to issues at Portovaya -- a 40% reduction from the planned volume of 167 million cu m/d.

It said that issues had arisen due to a delay in the return of a gas compressor unit that had been sent for maintenance to Germany's Siemens in Canada and other technical "malfunctions".

At the time it said only three compressor units were operational at the station, but the latest move suggest only two compressor units would now be operational from June 16, leading to further reduced Nord Stream flows.

Nord Stream -- which runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany -- had been the main channel for Russian gas to reach Europe, with Gazprom so far not seen as trying to offset the lower volumes by increasing transit via Ukraine.

Gazprom will not be able to re-route the lost Nord Stream volumes via the Yamal pipeline after Moscow imposed sanctions in May on the operator of the link in Poland, effectively banning use of the pipeline by Russian entities.