Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced a surprise interruption in the flow of natural gas to Germany for several days at the end of this month. The pause is expected to ramp up already-high tensions about the energy crisis straining European power grids and infrastructure.
The temporary shutdown was said to be necessary to make repairs to the original Nord Stream pipeline serving Germany and much of Western Europe. The pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea, originating in western Russia.
Russia's Gazprom said the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will halt gas flows to Germany for three days🚨 pic.twitter.com/ur3rnrJgTt
— Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) August 19, 2022
Gazprom said that the pipeline will be down from August 31 through September 2 so that crews can replace a turbine serving the network. It is already being reported that further service interruptions could result if other defects in the system are discovered.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government controls Gazprom’s operations and has already cut the flow of gas through the Nord Stream pipeline to 20% of its normal capacity. The company has already closed the pipeline for 10 days last month as part of ordinarily scheduled annual maintenance.
Even though Gazprom said the reduction to 20% of capacity was due to mechanical problems, many European officials are accusing the Putin government of weaponizing energy security in response to the severe economic sanctions the West has imposed on Russia due to the Ukraine invasion.
The interruption in the supply of natural gas will place additional pressure on the German energy industry which is already struggling to address summertime demand because of lower gas supply.
Natural gas prices in the European market rose even further on the news of the impending shutdown. Over the last five days, prices have risen by almost 19%.
The Russian war dragging on in Ukraine and corresponding difficulties in continental geopolitics have led to a highly stressed natural gas market throughout Europe.
Europe has increased its purchase of natural gas from the United States in an effort to replace the disrupted Russian supply. Asian purchasers are reportedly stocking up on Russian natural gas in anticipation of emergency demand from Europe if the normal supply from Russia is cut off.
As Germany prepares for the impending winter season under the threat of uncertain energy supplies, citizens have been purchasing and searching for firewood to protect against the cold.
Many are also scrambling to stockpile gas in storage tanks for emergency heating in the event normal supplies are cut this winter.