Fear of a cold winter is growing among Germans as Russia closes gas pipeline for ‘repairs’

The main natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany was shut down for scheduled maintenance yesterday, raising concerns that Moscow could use the repairs as an excuse for a prolonged shutdown as it uses power supplies as a bargaining chip in the Ukraine war.

European ministers said it was unclear whether Moscow would reopen the Nord Stream 1 pipeline’s taps after 10 days of planned works.

Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Berlin feared a “nightmare scenario” this winter if that were the case.

“Anything is possible, anything can happen,” he said on Deutschlandfunk on Sunday. “We have to prepare for the worst.”

Speaking at an economics conference in the south of France, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire went further, saying that a full shutdown was “the most likely scenario”. He said: “It would be completely irresponsible to ignore this scenario.”

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline pumps around 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany, where it is also distributed to other European countries. Virtually the entire European Union has said moving away from Russian gas should be a priority, but several member countries remain heavily dependent on Moscow.

Although Germany has been scrambling to diversify its supplies since Moscow invaded Ukraine, it still depends on Russia for around 35 percent of its supplies, and France is dependent on 17 percent.

As it seeks to build gas reserves ahead of winter, when household heating needs are at their highest, the federal government has urged consumers to conserve energy by taking cooler showers and using less air conditioning.

Mr Habeck, who said he was taking shorter showers, has drawn up a contingency plan in the event of another supply shortage that would involve government intervention in the energy market.

At Berlin’s urging, Canada announced on Sunday that it would leave behind a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany. The equipment is stranded in Montreal, where it was repaired, because of Canadian sanctions against Russia.

Germany had feared that the turbine’s absence could be used by Russia as an excuse not to turn the gas back on if it was not returned in time for maintenance.

Last month, Russia throttled inflows to 40 percent of the pipeline’s total capacity, citing delays in returns, a move Western nations called “energy blackmail.”

Ukraine’s government on Sunday criticized Canada’s decision to return the sanctioned Russian gas turbine, saying it would encourage Moscow to “continue to use energy as a tool of hybrid warfare against Europe.” (©Washington Post)

©Washington Post

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/fears-grow-of-cold-winter-for-germans-as-russia-shuts-gas-pipeline-for-repairs-41832304.html Fear of a cold winter is growing among Germans as Russia closes gas pipeline for ‘repairs’

Fry Electronics Team

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