What is Nord Stream 1 pipeline, and why is it critical for Europe?
Russia, on Wednesday, halted gas supplies for three days to Europe via Nord Stream 1, citing maintenance issues. Gazprom, the Russian state energy company, has said there would be no gas supply to Germany until September 3.
“Gas supplies via the Nord Stream gas pipeline will be suspended during the three-day (August 31 to September 2, 2022) maintenance of the Trent 60 DLE gas compressor unit,” the company had said on August 19. in a statement. The maintenance will be done by Gazprom jointly with Siemens.
In July, it was shut down for ten days for annual maintenance. The maintenance was usually done quietly in the past. But with the pipeline becoming a bargaining chip between Russia and the West, the company’s announcements are now made public.
What is Nord Stream 1?
Nord Stream 1 is the biggest pipeline transporting natural gas between Russia and Europe via Germany. It runs from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. In 2021, Russia supplied nearly 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas needs through this pipeline.
It is majorly owned by Gazprom. The twin pipeline system of Nord Stream can transport 55 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia to Europe through the Baltic Sea.
In June, Moscow slashed the supply via Nord Stream to 40 per cent. In July, it was further reduced to 20 per cent.
Along with the pipeline, Russia has completely cut off supplies to Denmark, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands, and Poland, a report by Reuters stated.
The flows through Nord Stream play a vital role in filling up the national storage tanks of Germany and the EU. It is crucial to provide the required heating in the upcoming winter.
As per Reuters, out of Germany’s 85 per cent storage target by October 1, 83.26 per cent have already been filled. But the target of 95 per cent by November 1 may be difficult.
For the EU, the required storage level of 80 per cent is near completion, with 79.94 per cent already filled.
What is the politics around Nord Stream 1?
Dmitry Peskov, in July, had said that Moscow does not intend to cut off the gas supplies via Nord Stream 1 completely. But “if Europe continues its course of absolutely recklessly imposing sanctions and restrictions that are hitting it, the situation may change.”
Russia is using the supplies via the crucial pipeline as a bargain to navigate its economy through sanctions from the western countries, imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine in February.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had, in July, said that Putin is trying to wage an “overt war” against Europe using the pipeline.
Why the pipeline is significant for Germany?
Energy prices in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are among the lowest in the continent. This is made possible due to cheap gas supplies via Nord Stream 1. This also makes German manufactured goods more competitive in the international market. Russian threats to choke this gas supply to Europe present an economic threat to Germany.
To expand its options and double the supply from Russia, Germany had decided to build Nord Stream 2. But it was halted in February post-Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
In response, Russia’s former president and now deputy chairman of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, had tweeted, “Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay 2,000 euros per thousand cubic metres!”
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