Russian gas: Nord Stream maintenance plunges Europe into the unknown

Germany, and with it Europe, entered on Monday a period of great uncertainty regarding Russian gas imports, which have already greatly reduced in recent weeks and which could soon dry up completely. In the morning, the Russian group Gazprom began maintenance work on the two Nord Stream 1 gas pipelines, which transport a large amount of Russian gas to Germany and several other Western European countries. “Nord Stream is stopped (…), which means that the gas no longer circulates “the German Ministry of Economy confirmed on Monday.

This stop, for ten days, of the two rods, which had been announced for some time, was supposed to be only a technical formality. However, in the context of the war in Ukraine, no one can bet on what will happen next. “We are facing an unprecedented situation, everything is possible”German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, questioned on German public radio, acknowledged this weekend. “It is possible that the gas will flow again (…). It is possible that nothing more will happen and we must prepare, as always, for the worst.He added.

Moscow, citing a technical problem, has already reduced gas deliveries via Nord Stream by 60% in recent weeks, a decision denounced as ” Politics “ of Berlin. Elsewhere in Europe, Gazprom has done the same, reducing supplies to some countries and completely cutting them off for others (France, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands).

Since the start of the war, Germany has closed another Russian gas pipeline that was to be put into service, Nord Stream 2, and is working to reduce its dependence, but it remains significant: 35% of its gas imports come from the Russia, compared to 55% before the war.

A lasting standstill of Nord Stream 1 would not only penalize the largest European economy: the gas arriving in Germany continues to be transported throughout Europe. In France, the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, invited a “quickly enter the battle order” to face the possibility of a total cut of supplies, “very likely option”. A prolonged suspension of deliveries would therefore aggravate the energy crisis in which Europe has already fallen: prices would skyrocket and one could fear a very difficult winter. In Germany, the authorities are already evaluating rationing plans and demanding savings.

Read also: Europeans are preparing for a winter without Russian gas

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