The Nord Stream pipeline has suspended gas supplies to Germany until 21 July for maintenance. According to Nord Stream AG, gas pumping was suspended at 7 a.m. Moscow time, while the gas flow was reduced to zero hours later.
However, this maintenance work is played out with several political players and accusations in between. Gas giant Gazprom has been operating at 40% capacity since June because, according to the Kremlin, the German company Siemens Energy has not returned the turbines that are being repaired in Canada and are needed to pump the fuel. The reason for Russia's failure to return the turbines is because of sanctions on Moscow for the 'special military operation' in Ukraine.
In response, the German company Siemens Energy issued a statement saying that they were "working to bring the turbine as quickly as possible". Also, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has announced that he will return the repaired turbine needed for the pipeline to help ensure continued energy flows to Europe, but would extend sanctions against Russia's energy sector.
"Canada is unwavering in its support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Canada will not relent in its pressure on the Russian regime," said Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly in response to Ukraine's disapproval of the turbine return. The Ukrainian Foreign and Energy Ministries called on the US to reverse the decision for giving in to "Russia's whims".
In addition to these accusations, the maintenance shutdown of Nord Stream is reviving fears in Germany and the rest of Europe of running out of gas supplies, especially disrupting plans to fill storage for the winter.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the country should face the real possibility of Russia suspending gas flows through Nord Stream beyond the scheduled maintenance period. "According to the pattern we have seen, it would not be very surprising now if some small technical detail is found whereby they now say we can't turn it on any more," Habeck announced.
Also in Spain, the third vice-president and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, said in an interview in El Español that "we have to prepare for Russian gas cuts", for which contingency plans are being reinforced.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed these claims, saying that Russia was in no way using oil or gas to exert political pressure. According to Peskov, this maintenance shutdown was a regularly scheduled event and that no one was "inventing" any repairs. Last year's Nord Stream maintenance work was also carried out on a similar date, between 13 and 23 July, and on schedule for completion.
The debate now focuses on how this possible gas cut-off could affect energy, with a lack of supply for the whole of Europe, but, above all, at an economic and financial level, with the collapse of the gas market.