New bottleneck fears as Russia keeps German gas pipeline closed

Russia’s Gazprom PJSC said its key gas pipeline to Europe will not reopen as planned, bringing the region one step closer to blackouts, rationing and a severe recession.

The pipeline was scheduled to reopen on Saturday after maintenance work. But in a last-minute statement late Friday, the company said a technical problem had been found and the line could not operate again until it was fixed. The European Union said Gazprom was acting under “deceptive pretenses”.

“It’s a major blow to Europe, which has been scrambling to reduce its reliance on Russian gas ahead of winter and waiting for Moscow’s next steps in the energy war. As the continent tries to take action to weather the winter, the pipeline’s indefinite closure is an escalation that threatens further economic turmoil.

“This announcement is just another indication that between ‘technical problems’ and ‘contractual disputes’, a winter without Russian gas is the central scenario for Europe,” said Simone Tagliapietra of the Bruegel think-tank in Brussels.

“Putin is trying to hit Europe where it hurts the most.”

With prices four times higher than a year ago, the gas crisis is already forcing shutdowns in European industries and undermining the euro.

An oil leak was detected at a gas turbine that helps pump gas into the compound, Gazprom said.

There is no indication of how long the repair may take.

Similar oil leaks were previously found on some other turbines that are now out of service, and “complete elimination of oil leaks on these turbines is possible only under the conditions of a specialized repair company,” Gazprom said.

There was initially no comment from the Kremlin. Gazprom said Siemens – which makes the turbines – has confirmed the leak and is having to carry out repairs off-site. Siemens declined to comment.

The dramatic escalation of Europe’s energy crisis comes just as prices are falling. If the shutdown continues, it will endanger homes, factories and economies and weaken Europe’s hand while aiding Ukraine in the war against Russia. New bottleneck fears as Russia keeps German gas pipeline closed

Fry Electronics Team

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