Berlin obtained on Saturday that Canada authorizes the return of a turbine requested by Gazprom to operate the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which carries a large amount of gas to Germany. Ukraine believes that this decision demonstrates the ineffectiveness of international sanctions.
It is a “capitulation” that “will strengthen the feeling of Russian impunity”. Ukraine did not mince words on Sunday 10 July regarding Canada. In question: the decision made the day before by Justin Trudeau’s government to agree to send a gas turbine that was near Montreal back to Germany for repair.
This appliance designed by the German group Siemens has been at the center of the energy showdown between Russia and the West in the last month. Germany has stepped up its efforts with Ottawa to secure the return of the coveted turbine, which is expected to be used to run the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the main source of gas supply for Germany and other Central European countries.
International cheating on the background of sanctions
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz even intervened in person to say that this turbine “would avoid energy shortages”. “We thank our Canadian friends and allies”, greeted the head of the German government after the green light in Ottawa.
However, Justin Trudeau’s government again refused last week to return the coin to the sender – Gazprom, the Russian energy giant that operates the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Canada believed that this was a violation of international standards. sanctions against Russia.
In the end, he gave in to the Berlin proposal, which allows him not to formally fall into sanctions by sending the turbine not directly to Gazprom but first to Germany … “Canada has granted Siemens Canada a revocable and fixed-term permit to allow the repair Nord Stream 1 turbines will be returned to Germany, which will support Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy “, said Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson.
>> To see: “Ukraine: gas, the other Russian weapon? Moscow suspends deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria”
To understand how gas turbines could become such a bone of contention between Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Canada, we need to go back to June 14. That day, Gazprom said it was “forced” to reduce the amount of gas transported by Nord Stream 1 by almost 60% due to a technical problem linked to international sanctions.
In a tweet, the group then clarified that these were the famous gas turbines manufactured by Siemens that Canada did not want to send back to Russia due to the same sanctions.
An international scam that is difficult to unravel and that originates from the city of Vyborg, north of St. Petersburg. This is where the Nord Stream 1 pipeline begins, and to carry the gas you need some kind of powerful engine that, just like an airplane jet engine, propels it through 1,200 kilometers of pipes. It is the role of the turbines that increases the pressure at the start of the pipeline so that it is enough to push the hydrocarbon towards the German coast, explains the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
A Russian excuse that no one believes?
Gazprom claims that as long as Canada maintains the Siemens turbine, it will not be able to operate the pipeline properly. But why did this crucial piece end up on the other side of the Atlantic? In a press release, the German group explains that the part was produced and delivered to Gazprom in 2009 by Siemens Canada and can only be repaired “for technical reasons” in the group’s workshops in Quebec.
These pieces of equipment have to be serviced every ten years, and many of them – five of the eight sold to Gazprom – ended up in Canada just before the war in Ukraine. The start of the Russian invasion on February 24 was a turning point and, with sanctions imposed on exports of oil and gas-related equipment to Russia, Canada opposed the turbine’s return.
But Gazprom’s argument to justify its June 14 decision does not seem credible to many observers. Neither Canada, nor Ukraine, nor Germany really believe it. Robert Habeck, German vice-chancellor and minister of the economy, thus told the Bloomberg chain that this matter of turbines “was a pretext”. He said Berlin was confident Gazprom had spare turbines capable of running Nord Stream 1.
The German Energy Networks Agency also said on June 15 that the 60% drop in gas transported by Nord Stream 1 could not be explained by the lack of a single turbine, reports Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, the editorial site of the Madsack press group. Average .
So why did Berlin fight so hard to get the green light from Ottawa? In fact, it would be a question of “preventing Vladimir Putin from using [du sujet] as an excuse to deprive Europe of gas “, assured Robert Habeck, also on the Bloomberg channel.
Nord Stream 1 closed for maintenance
For Germany it was necessary to act quickly: Canada had to give its agreement by 11 July. On Monday, the Russian giant Gazprom began its annual maintenance operation for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. To do this, the group cut the gas tap on the pipeline, which supplies almost 40% of German needs.
And it’s not just Germany that is affected: some of the precious hydrocarbon that arrives from Russia via Nord Stream 1 to end its journey in Greifswald, Pomerania, is then sent back to several Western European countries, such as the UK. , Belgium or France. In the current context of high voltage on the energy markets, every cubic meter of gas counts.
This annual maintenance usually doesn’t worry anyone. It lasts from 10 to 14 days, then everything returns to normal and European countries, starting with Germany, have plenty of time to stockpile gas for the winter, explains the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
But the war in Ukraine obliges, “we are in an unprecedented situation and everything is now possible,” Robert Habeck warned Sunday, during an interview on German public radio.
The German government feared that Moscow would use the pretext of turbines to indefinitely deprive Germany and Europe of the gas passing through Nord Stream 1. This would be all the more serious as there is no alternative. Nord Stream 1 was one of the last pipelines to still supply significant quantities of Russian gas to Germany, as the Yamal-Europe pipeline – which passes through Poland – has significantly reduced its flow rate since the beginning of July, while it no longer has Russian gas has been transiting Ukraine since mid-May, remembers the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
But the story of turbines isn’t over yet. Germany has yet to get approval from Brussels to export this equipment to Russia despite European sanctions against the Russian energy sector. “All of our experts are working to get the necessary approvals,” said Siemens Energy. A turbine that risks overturning all penalties.
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